Masses are being punished in the name of reforms.

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Shahid Rasheed Butt, the former president of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), stated on Wednesday that it is necessary to reveal the names of the influential individuals and groups receiving annual benefits of 17.5 billion dollars. If the privileges that elites are getting are legal and moral, why have they been kept a secret for so long, he asked?

Shahid Rasheed Butt said in a statement issued here today that in the financial year 2022, the elites were exempted from Rs 2.24 trillion in federal taxes, which was 36.4 per cent of the total tax collected by FBR and 3.4 per cent of the GDP. This amount was higher than the federal government’s total expenditures, and without these exemptions and privileges, the country would not have required IMF loans.

According to research by a former Finance Minister, the privileged classes receive annual benefits of Rs 14000 billion, he said, adding that when accounted for inflation, this amount comes to 7.5 trillion rupees. Snatching the resources of people with low incomes and giving them to influential people and groups does not develop the economy but weakens it and stokes poverty.

Many experts believe drama is being made in the name of reforms aimed at further squeezing low-income people to benefit the rich.

If the undue and unethical support of the elite is stopped, Pakistan will not need to beg from the IMF and friendly nations, he said.

Tackling the elite capture will reduce inflation, cut unemployment, and decrease illiteracy. The rupee’s value, growth rate, and quality of public health will all improve, and the country will not face a long-term crisis.

Mr Butt noted that there is a concerning disparity between the rich and the poor in Pakistan, and people in positions of authority are deliberately widening it.

Regarding human development rankings, Pakistan’s low average income and poor health and literacy rates are notable. While a tiny percentage of Pakistan’s elite enjoy remarkable wealth, most citizens lack the bare essentials.

Despite the populist rhetoric of our opportunistic politicians, Pakistan’s glaring socio-economic inequities are the result of various structural problems that have not been intentionally addressed.

Influential people need to re-evaluate our country’s goals. It’s high time our government shifted their attention to ensuring growth through progressive policies that boost production from the bottom up. Otherwise, the situation would exacerbate already-existing disparities and affect the entire nation, not just low-income people. However, he said it is doubtful that the government will stop rewarding and bribing the elite.

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