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> Government’s Reliance on International Financial Institutions denounced
   Second Session of Youth Parliament Pakistan 2008-2009
 
YPP 2008 Second Session
January 03, 2009
Hotel Margalla, Islamabad

   

Islamabad, January 03; The fourth day of the second Session of the Youth Parliament Pakistan began with the address of the Guest Speaker, Dr. Salman Shah, Former Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, who spoke on the topic of State of Economy in Pakistan. Dr. Shah pointed out that foreign remittances that have emerged to be a major source of revenue carry a lot of potential to further build in favour of our GDP. He also identified that a major chunk of our country’s demography comprises the youth under 25 years of age which is an explosive asset for us and can either make us or break us. Investor-friendly climate is needed in the country. He also informed the house that reforms introduced in the Federal Board of Revenue gave Pakistan up to USD 16.7 billion of revenue and since the taxing population of Pakistan still remains 2 million people, out of a population of 160 million, we have the potential to acquire up to USD 40 billion as tax. This can be done by streamlining the tax collecting mechanism by introducing self assessment schemes, targetting only the blatant and major tax evaders and obtaining taxpayers confidence by introducing tax spending transparency. One way of gaining citizens’ confidence, he proposed, is through following the Korean example of public private partnerships in service industry and citizens’ welfare. Another important aspect is building up of ‘brand image’ for the country on which he said he worked intensively while in office. He said that his government worked hard on gaining investors’ confidence but the current government chose not to keep up the trend. The new government stopped stock exchange transactions causing a loss of USD 5 billion which further ate up the already diminishing reserves due to increase in the import during the oil price hike. This cost an aggregate damage of USD 10 billion to Pakistan’s reserves of USD 16 billion. The IMF loan added a mere USD 3 billion to the remaining 6 billion making it a total of USD 9 billion with far too ‘many’ strings attached.

 
 

Of the two resolutions passed in the house today about tax structure reform was referred to Standing Committee on Finance, Planning Affairs and Economics. The resolution was passed by Mr. Waqas Aslam Rana (YP38-PUNJAB19), Mir Fahad Iqbal (YP61-SINDH13), Mr. Ahmed Noor (YP08-FATA01) and Mr. Muhammad Abdullah Zaidi (YP53-SINDH05). Contentions that surfaced during the debate were over increasing farmers’ tax versus revising the structure of tax collection that would target industrialists and landlords who evade tax blatantly. A stalemate situation over agriculture tax compelled the Prime Minister to decide on referring the resolution to the steering committee for further discussion.

 
 

The last business of today’s session was moved by Mr. Ahmed Javed (YP23-PUNJAB04), Umm-e-Ammara Hikmat (YP19-NWFP07), Waqas Aslam Rana (YP38-PUNJAB19) and Chaudhry Usman Ahmad (YP41-PUNJAB22). The resolution was further revised by Syed Muhammad Nishat-ul-Hassan Kazmi (YP20-PUNJAB01). This resolution urged the house to minimise reliance of the government over International Financial Institutions through better fiscal planning, budget allocation and reform of the financial sector. Talking of the recent IMF (International Monetary Fund) Loan Mr Ahmed Javed (YP23-PUNJAB4) pointed out that IMF functions to provide countries with, Exchange rate stabilisation; Financial crisis management; crisis management; financial policy coordination and surveillance which undertakes implementation of financial reforms. He said that the country’s machinery, Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance are functioning to perform the mentioned functions and to accept IMF’s assistance is to implicitly accept that our financial apparatus is dysfunctional. MYPs also urged the government to reduce budget on luxury items and imported cars used by the bureaucracy. They also stressed on reinforcing the efforts o employ indigenous assets of manpower; maximize agricultural and remittance revenues; enable farmers to work on uncultivated lands and produce bio fuel to lessen our oil dependence. They also urged the government to improve our brand image in the country and if possible renegotiate the terms with IMF. The resolution was passed in the house with unanimity.

 
 

Mr. Illahi Bukhsh Soomro presided the session and gave his guidance over traditions of the parliament as and when required. During lunch recess, Dr. Salman Shah mingled with the members of the Youth Parliament and answered their questions. Mr. Soomro, commended the efforts of PILDAT and appreciated the level of enthusiasm among this term’s members of the Youth Parliament.