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    Rs 1 trillion in losses can be controlled by effective enforcement policies

    ‘Rs 1 trillion in losses can be controlled by effective enforcement policies’

    The government could enhance the tax-to-GDP ratio, increase tax collection, and reduce the budget deficit by curtailing tax evasion and illicit trade in major sectors, said Fawad Khan, Spokesperson for Mustehkam Pakistan, an advocacy firm for curbing illicit trade and tax evasion in the country to safeguard interests of marginalized and low income communities.

    He said that the nation incurs substantial losses, exceeding Rs 1 trillion, due to tax evasion and illicit trade in five key sectors: real estate, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, tires and lubricants, and tea.

    According to an international research report, the real estate sector alone contributes to an annual tax evasion of Rs 500 billion, with the tobacco sector adding Rs 240 billion in tax losses. The tyres and lubricants sector records Rs 106 billion in tax evasion, while the pharmaceutical industry experiences annual losses of Rs 65 billion. The tea sector also suffers an annual tax loss of Rs 45 billion.

    He urged that this significant amount must be collected without fail. These tax leaks, combined with illicit trade and flawed policies, along with inadequate enforcement, have plunged Pakistan into a dire economic situation.

    Moreover, he said that the World Bank (WB) was also deemed Pakistan’s tax collection insufficient to meet its financial necessities. The WB report states that progressive countries should maintain a tax-to-GDP ratio of at least 15%, whereas Pakistan currently stands at only 11.6%.

    The spokesperson stressed that increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio, fiscal tax collection, and curbing illicit trade in major sectors are the need of the hour. This not only helps meet tax targets aligned with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but also facilitates the allocation of funds to human development projects. Pakistan’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking has significantly declined in recent years, dropping to the 161st position from 154th in 2020.

    The government needs to take decisive action in curbing illicit trade and tax evasion for the betterment of the country. It is imperative for sustaining economic stability, meeting international standards, and channeling resources towards crucial human development initiatives, he concluded.

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