Media and food sectors problems should not be escalated: Mian Zahid Hussain

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Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain said on Tuesday that imposition of additional tax on food items would increase pressure on the masses who are already reeling under the burden of inflation.

Such moves will exuberate food security issues, shrink the documented economy and promote the undocumented economy.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the decision to impose tax on food items should be withdrawn as it will further affect food security and push millions below the poverty line.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said there is a need to bring tax-paying sectors into the tax net for enhanced recoveries. Individuals should be netted through digital transactions instead of FIRs.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the majority of Pakistan’s population is already deprived of necessary nutrients. Due to the 18% general sales tax from July 1, consumers must pay an extra Rs 50 per litre of packaged milk, draining hundreds of rupees from their monthly pockets.

He added that this would also reduce the volume of the documented dairy industry, affecting livestock businesses, public employment, and government revenue.

The business leader said that Pakistan is one of the important countries in milk production, but despite this, 40% of children are short, 29% are underweight, and 18% are weak due to a lack of proper nutrients that their parents could not afford.

Mian Zahid Hussain also demanded that the government remove 10% GST from newsprint. He said the media industry is already facing a difficult situation, so the tax proposal should be withdrawn.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that according to FBR, the number of tax filers has increased by 1.5 million this year, which is commendable. The FBR has traced an alleged tax fraud of Rs 756 billion in the form of flying invoices and claimed to have arrested 70 to 80 people.

According to tax officials, the steel sector is a major source of fake invoices, costing the national exchequer Rs 60 to 70 billion annually.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that 6,000 vacancies in the FBR need to be filled to boost collection.

However, he said that before the appointments, a guarantee should be taken from the higher authorities that they will take practical steps on a professional and digital basis to document the sectors outside the tax net, and the policy of squeezing the taxpayers will be abandoned.


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