PM Imran Khan seeks ways to cut indirect taxes

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday asked his economic team to pay special attention to reduction of indirect taxes, being a burden on the poorest sections of society.

He maintained that the burden of indirect taxes falls on the poorest sections, so special attention should be paid to reduce the burden. At the same time, the prime minister directed the economic team to come up with suggestions to reduce taxes on goods, so that relief could be provided to people, especially the poor and the middle class. He was presiding over a meeting of the government economic team, which considered possible measures to reduce the prices of basic necessities and provide relief to the common man. The meeting was attended by Federal Ministers Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Asad Umar, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Advisors Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, SBP Governor Dr. Reza Baqir, Special Assistants Dr. Waqar Masood, Nadeem Babar, Tabish Gohar and senior officers. The meeting also considered various proposals for providing targeted subsidies to deserving families under the Ehsas programme.

Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the first priority of the government was the interest of the common man. “Poor people are affected most by difficult economic conditions, so providing them with all possible relief is the top priority of the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan praised efforts of the Ministry of Climate Change and directed it to actively look into the possibility of net zero emissions for Pakistan, which may become possible with the enhancement of the carbon sequestration potential. He expressed the views chairing a meeting of Prime Minister’s Committee on Climate Change. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Chief Ministers Sardar Usman Buzdar of Punjab, Mahmood Khan of KP and Jam Kamal Khan of Balochistan, SAPM Malik Amin Aslam, Minister of State Zartaj Gul, SAPM Dr. Moeed Yousaf and senior officials attended the meeting.

The meeting reviewed the latest inventory reserves of Green House Gases and progress made on Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme. It was informed that Pakistan’s emission growth is 9pc below the Business as Usual baseline and also below the NDC (Nationally determined commitments). The climate-friendly shift has been made possible due to an increased forest cover as a result of successful the Billion Tree Tsunami project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the ongoing Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme across the country.

SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam informed the meeting that the deforestation rate had significantly been reduced from 12,000 hectares/year to 8,000 ha/y from 2012-2016 and will further fall after the success of the tree project. The meeting was informed that Pakistan was contributing less than 1pc to global emission. The overall ranking of the country vis-à-vis total emissions has shifted from 135 in 2015 to 133 in 2018 on per capita ranking. Highlighting other successes, he told the meeting that Pakistan had increased its mangrove cover by 300pc during 1990-2020 which is a strong carbon sequestering tool. It is the largest mangrove cover increase in the world, he claimed.

The meeting was informed that the country was ranked 8th in terms of the Climate Vulnerability Ranking and faced threats of rain variability, urban flooding, increased temperature and formation of glacial lakes.

Pakistan is set to achieve the first billion tree target by the middle of 2021, which will be celebrated across the country, the meeting was informed. Additionally, Pakistan is on target to achieve Phase-I of 3.2 billion trees by 2023. The committee was also briefed that the consortium of three international agencies, including WWF, IUCN and FAO had already started their work for third party monitoring of the tree programme. The meeting was informed that 80,000 jobs were offered during COVID-19 under the tree project.

Underscoring the need for putting in place an early warning system to mitigate impacts of erratic climate change. The prime minister directed ensuring complete transparency, including actively engaging SUPARCO, for satellite imagery in the execution of the project.