By Shahid Ahsan Khalid
New Cities, Ethanol and the Feudal Immunity
This is budget time again. However, budget is not what it used to be. If you can impose taxes at any time of the year there is no need for any sitting government to look bad and extortionist, which the South Asian establishments are, especially India and Pakistan.
Yet this annual ritual can be given a new lease of life and meaning. Under the changed economic scenario, China’s initiative and ensuing package provides great opportunities for Pakistan.
NEW URBAN CENTERS:
Right now, Pakistan is short of nine million houses. What we immediately require are at least ten new urban centers of five lacs houses each. Gwadar is going to be one new center, Pindi Bhattian is crying to be included in such a vision. These are two examples only but one can extend them to twenty or even more. We can start with one lac houses in every new center. The new routes of China package and motorways, they call for new cities with all urban facilities and purpose-built for special persons as well. The special requirements of special persons were totally ignored in metro bus projects of Lahore and Rawalpindi. If we do not want to add more horrible conditions to the monsters that are South Asia’s mega cities, we must act now.
ENSURED GROWTH RATE IN DOUBLE DIGIT
The quality of life, the new jobs created and industries involved in creation of new cities practically provide unlimited opportunities. All this ensures growth rate of 14/15% for a long long time. Life can be beautiful for common people as well and who can oppose a government achieving such growth rates?
USE OF ETHANOL AS MAIN FUEL FOR VEHICLES
Pakistan suffers from perennial balance of payment deficit. Main cause of this problem is import of fossil fuel for use in transport. On the other hand Pakistan produces enough sugarcane to achieve required quantity for its domestic use. The effect on environment is friendly, unlike fossil fuels, and its indigenous too.
THE FEUDAL IMMUNITY
Any discussion about budget and taxes will remain incomplete without alluding to the role the feudal do not play in tax-paying. The finance minister consistently refuses to accept the reality that it is the limit of earning which determines tax liability, not the nature of earning.
Resultantly, individuals who can order 3.5 lacs khusa live a tax free life and a middle income salaried or professional pays an obscene amount of tax!