The Rich People of a Poor Nation
By Amjad Islam Amjad
Our common sense suggests that if there is an increase in the financial resources or assets of a person (even if due to inheritance), it means that he is getting some income and is thus, required to pay the income tax. But it is an open secret that in general, members of our business community have devised numerous tricks and techniques for tax evasion. Instead of paying million rupees as tax, they prefer to give half a million to that lawyer who tells them ways to avoid its payment.
During every budget season, it is discussed that with the exception of the salaried class no one else pays the full amount of tax. Some of them succeed in evading tax payment by dint of their personal power or by bribing the concerned officials, while others achieve their objective by deceitfully altering the papers or getting involved in prolonged legal wranglings and intricacies. But all such malpractices seriously undermine the process of national progress and prosperity. This mean and shameful behaviour deserves condemnation in the strongest possible terms. If a person gets a chance to witness the unscrupulous and fraudulent activities of the contemptible tax evaders, he is bound to be stunned and flabbergasted and will have to rub his eyes constantly to remind him that he is awake and alive. Consider for instance, the case of a shop worth millions of rupees, having in it extremely precious trade goods. Its owner is sure to get hundreds of thousands of rupees as net monthly profit, and yet, the annual income tax paid by him is not more than a few thousand. In factories and markets, this type of tax evasion is mostly done through direct underhand dealing. It is said that if at such places, someone “suffering from the cholera of honesty” insists on paying the full amount of tax due on him, the concerned officials approach him with the humble request that he should abandon such an idea in the best interest of many other people.
As far as our ruling elite are concerned, they consider the payment of taxes to be contrary to their protocol and defiance of their birth rights. For instance, one is sure to be dazed and dumbfounded if one has a look at the lavish spendings of most of the members of our assemblies, their businesses, lands, properties, huge bungalows, cars and educational expenditures of their children. But the details of the assets declared by them in their nomination papers, and the income tax returns filed by them, remind us of the advice given by the assassinated governor of the Punjab Salman Tasir to the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif when the latter paid only five thousand rupees as annual tax. He advised him that if his financial resources were so meager, he should contact Benazir Income Support Programme.
In the conventional sense, when someone becomes bankrupt, his condition is similar to that of a person who suddenly falls down from the top of a mountain into a ditch. In other words, he is like a person who is suddenly bitten by a snake while climbing a ladder in the game of Ludo. But it is one of the wonders of the horrible complications involved in the modern business dealings that loans worth billions of rupees are written off with a single stroke of the pen. In the same way, there are many such companies which are repeatedly declared bankrupt, but the assets of their directors go on increasing instead of decreasing. Despite this ignoble and shockingly shameful behaviour, they are regarded as trustworthy and honourable.
There was a time when capitalists and investors were different from landowners and feudal lords, on the basis of their way of thinking and mental outlook. Those were the days when feudal lords had a complete monopoly over assemblies and other legislative bodies and laws pertaining to the tax on agriculture were almost non-existent. But now, people belonging to both these classes are hand in glove with each other, because both of them do not pay taxes and thus, ruin the country's economy.
Ever since I have written the TV serial “Waris”, people often ask me as to why I am always so critical of the feudal class in my writings. I always reply that of course, like other classes, the feudal class also has some good individuals. But as a whole, this class is based on exploitation and is, therefore, associated with cruelty, injustice and exploitation. Once, when a feudal lord friend of mine asked me the same question, I silenced him with the following reply.
“Suppose, an old trusted peasant of yours, whose family has loyally served you people for many generations, comes to you with the request for some financial help on the marriage of his daughter. It is most likely that you will order your secretary to fulfil his requirement. But suppose, another such person comes to you and says, “Sir, I have worked honestly and continuously in your fields for several years. Now that my daughter is going to be married, I request you to calculate my earnings for this whole period and give me my due remuneration in accordance with the law, so that I may be able to fulfil my obligation properly.
It is most likely that you will order your servants to tie him with a tree and give him the severest beating for asking you to calculate his earnings.
You people behave like that because you like to give charity to others; you never like to give others their due rights.”
As long as the owners of ever increasing number of sugar and flour mills, and those who have kept their huge amounts of money in Swiss Banks, do not honestly pay all the tax due on them, there will be no improvement in the economy and mentality of this nation.
Source: The Rich People of a Poor Nation