KARACHI: Former Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Sunday said that in order to avoid International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs, Pakistan must ensure at least 15 percent tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 15 percent exports to GDP.
Addressing at a seminar titled ‘Reimagining Pakistan’ at Habib University, Miftah Ismail said Pakistan will continue to approach IMF and other international lending agencies for financial support as long as the country does not achieve maximum 15 percent tax, and 15 percent exports to GDP.
“Our tax to GDP was 16 percent in 1998, while today, it is only 9 percent,” he said and called for broadening tax base and enhancing exports.
Miftah calls for economic ‘overhaul’
Also, he asked the incumbent PML-N-led coalition government to live within its means and curtail expenses. Loss making public sector companies such as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) should be privatized.
The event was organized by ‘One Pakistan Forum’.
Miftah also stressed for the need to revisit National Finance Commission Awards (NFC) to lower burden on the Centre, and he called for the devolution of powers under 18th constitutional amendment from four provinces (chief minister houses) to the lower level such as divisions, districts and UCs.
NFC revisit doesn’t mean you cut provincial share. Provinces can collect taxes at their own. Tax collection authority should be given to them. Centre is financially overburdened, and bankrupted even in local currency. We don’t have money to pay debt in local currency. “Pakistan is not doing justice to its citizens,” he said.
He highlighted some 10 points that are very crucial to resolve the chronic problems Pakistan is currently facing. “We have to unite as one nation, and work for an inclusive growth.” he said adding the elite needs no growth because it has resources and savings, but the poor does. We have to create employment, ensure quality education, and provide healthcare to the citizens.
He said population control is a must for Pakistan. “We don’t have family planning. We have one of the highest population growth rates in the world and due to this we lose 1 percent GDP annually,” he added.
We have to focus on education. Our neighbouring India is establishing world best IT institutions, while half of our children are out of school. An average student in Pakistan gets fail both in mathematics and science. Our children have stunting growth due to malnutrition.
He also stressed upon gender equity saying the gender inclusive growth is a must.
Bangladesh gave education to their females in recent years, and today they are running its entire textile industry.
Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on this occasion said that the country will come out of the ongoing economic quagmire sooner than later, but the politics has become completely bankrupted.
Abbasi said that the constitution is the origin of every solution, but unfortunately we are hell bent on its negation.
He said the disappointment of the youth is a great loss to the nation, and he stressed for the Reimagining Pakistan.
Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that tragedies have become the hallmark of Pakistan.
Nations who got freedom with us and after us are successful models today because they are using politics for the cause of development. Whereas with us, cursing each other, slander and gaining power is more important than development.
A number of Women also expressed their perspectives during the seminar. They said in Pakistan, the potential of women is not utilized. Increasing population, low education, climate change and narrow-mindedness are obstacles to the growth of women, which have a clear impact on the country’s economy and development.
Political economist Akbar Zaidi said the neighbours cannot be ignored to achieve development. Pakistan’s improving relations with India and Iran is meant to self-strengthening the country.
He said microfinance has played an important role in the development of women. Female education will help in reducing the population rate. The event featured three panel discussions and a Q&A session.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023