Last update: Sat, 30 Apr 2016 08am

Articles and Letters: Articles


How will you define the budget-making process in Pakistan? The answer is: It is the same exercise of managing figures, plugging gaps, trade-offs and realignments of duty slabs, tariffs and tax slabs and similar adjustments. There is not much of out-of-the-box approach nor is there any ingenuity at work.
When Barclays Plc sold a fund management business to US financial group Blackrock Inc in 2009, the larger-than-expected $15.2 billion price tag was not the only good news for the British bank's investors. The way Barclays structured the sale - by booking part of the proceeds in Luxembourg - allowed it to do something not possible under most tax systems: generate a tax loss from a tax-exempt transaction, a Reuters analysis of previously unreported company filings and statements shows.
A plastic sheet, a blanket, a sleeping bag: a makeshift bed laid out in the shadow of towering apartment blocks by a man who would rather be homeless than cooped up in Hong Kong's cramped and overpriced housing units. Bright-eyed, neatly turned out but painfully thin, 54-year-old Ah-po works in a warehouse by day. By night he sleeps in the stands of a neighbourhood football pitch in an urban public park, and has done for three years.
"I was so glad that the Maulana has resurfaced. I was worried that he was missing this tremendous deal making opportunity."
These days, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is reportedly consulting (sic) all the stakeholders to consider only such proposals that can increase "revenues" (hopefully for the State) in the coming fiscal year. This ritualistic exercise every year brings more miseries for common Pakistanis and more hurdles for businessmen. Neither has FBR succeeded in bridging the monstrous, ever-increasing fiscal deficit by tapping the real tax potential, nor is any meaningful change offered in tax policy to help the economy to grow at a faster pace to bring prosperity for all. Tax is a by-product of growth. The government should concentrate on growth that would automatically increase taxes. For this we need a new tax model.
Instead of taking the high road, using the opportunity to deal pragmatically with the "Panama Leaks" explaining how and why his family's offshore companies and accounts thereof had come into existence, PM Mian Nawaz Sharif (MNS) seriously disappointed the nation by choosing to go the "fog of politics" route. Instead of exercising good sense he spent the better part of his April 22 televised speech alternatively feigning innocence and being belligerent about what is an international expose and not a home-grown conspiracy as he and his aides insist on implying. By clear inference, if not by name, he targeted Imran Khan, the Army and the Judiciary in that order. Going after Shaukat Khanum Hospital, which is doing a magnificent work in bringing cancer treatment within the reach of the common man, was in bad taste. Some of MNS' aides don't have either good taste or good manners but MNS himself is a decent human being and so are a fair number of his aides, why are they being vociferously "more loyal than the king"?
Irish exporters, British-based Irish citizens and the Irish government all worry that a Brexit, or British exit from the EU, could harm their interests and jolt the country's economy. With its close political, trade and cultural links to its nearest neighbour, no country is set to lose more than Ireland if Britain leaves the European Union. "A British exit from the EU would send Ireland, Britain and Europe into uncharted and treacherous waters," says Danny McKoy, head of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation, Ibec.