Thursday, May 28, 2015Thursday, May 28, 2015

Journalist's report unmasks tax evasion among Pakistan leaders

Published on Dec 12, 2012 7:07 PM
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari gives a press conference after a meeting with his French counterpart at the Elysee presidential palace on Dec 11, 2012 in Paris. He did not file a tax return in 2011 and neither did 34 of the 55 cabinet members including Interior Minister Rehman Malik according to a study by investigative journalist Umar Cheema. -- PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - More than 60 per cent of Pakistan's cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid no tax last year, according to a report released on Wednesday on tax evasion among the country's political leaders.

The study entitled "Representation without Taxation" by investigative journalist Umar Cheema takes Pakistan's elected leaders to task for paying little or no tax despite an estimated average net wealth of US$882,000 (S$1,077,264).

"The problem starts at the top. Those who make revenue policies, run the government and collect taxes, have not been able to set good examples for others," said the report, likely to increase pressure on Pakistan to implement tax reform.

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world, estimated at 9.2 per cent. Only 260,000 out of 180 million citizens have paid tax consecutively for the last three years, according to the Federal Board of Revenues (FBR).

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!