Sattar Baksh NOT Starbucks and TWO Comments on Pak Economy WhatsApp Shared

IRSHAD SALIM – Early this week I shared my comment on the state of affairs (Dollar swing & Pak Rupee slide) in Pakistan with many who are on my WhatsApp contacts: “Jin ki kothian hain aur gariyan hain unke toh warey niwarey ho Gaye 🙏aur doosron ke liye mehengai”.

“Those who own properties and cars are happy that the dollar rate is going up and others are concerned as ‘mehengai’ is hurting them badly”. Two senior observers responded and shared their comments with me:

Some suggested public solutions I propose:
Start with depositing dollars if you have. Or buy dollar from those yoy may know may have and deposit them in bank in exchange for Pak Rupee;
Pay one time 4 to 5 pct voluntary tax on real worth of your property in exchange for one or two years of tax amnesty, subject to law;
Pay Wealth Tax;
Make sure the shop or restaurant you go to buy stuff or eat are collecting sales tax and depositing it with the FBR. Sales Tax, absent direct taxes (tax withholdings), is one of the major source of revenue for the State. A substantial portion of ST collected can go toward paying off foreign debt –if and only if ALL of us including shops, stores, malls, food outlets, etc. be proactive on grass root level.
Also, adopt need based in lieu of want based or desire based spending and on buying daily needed stuffs. “Sattar Baksh instead of Starbucks”!

The public has to come forward and help the State: Pay Wealth Tax; Surrender hoarded dollars, etc. And become vigilant who is not collecting Sales Tax, and who is collecting and not depositing ST with the FBR, and finally adopt peaceful, passive measures as generally practiced abroad by citizens in neighborhoods and towns and business houses –to make sure ST is being paid and deposited. Bottom up efforts will complement State efforts.

Dollar rate rises have added in Pak rupee value to the properties (real estate and cars) and on the other hand depreciated the income of those who live only on their disposable income as a result of the rising prices.

Let us for the moment forget about “leaders” of all shades for the sake of discussion on above and adopt public solutions as suggested, Of course, general elections held will help build trust and narrow the trust deficit in politics –it is the sweetener. STILL we ought to separate economy from politics (power capture) to sustain the infamous “we are and have been on ventilator” narrative broadcast in April 2022.

The State is perennially in debt. Needs dollars and revenue to sustain its expenses. Rising prices, and to offset subsidies handed out previously, the middle and low income communities are facing the brunt. As a nation, we are wealthy.

The State has the power to put Mechanix lien on all assets across the board and extract taxes and wealth tax due –an option that should be on the front burner.

People hoarding dollars should surrender in exchange for equal to or higher than the street exchange rate – – even than the hundi rate.

Amnesty schemes have generally failed or shown marginal result. Public solutions are need of the hour, not politics, polemics and not chicanery.

Without economy politics is just like playing cricket on a narrow street in my view. “Politicians and affiliates think that this narrow street is enough to fill their coffers. Rest go to hell. The underfed and the uneducated populace is essential to sustain this polity. This is the method to the madness” –Quote from an observer.

Pakistan Zindabad.