PM announces zero tolerance against power thieves, tax evaders

ISLAMABAD, Mar 20 (Alliance News): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday expressing resolve to streamline the country’s economy by bringing strict reforms in all public departments said the government will adopt zero tolerance policy against power thieves, tax evaders and corrupt elements.

He said the new government with fresh mandate will work diligently to enhance foreign direct investment, expand tax net, minimize tax evasion, reduce public debt, eliminate power theft and implement stern austerity measures in the government departments.

Addressing the first formal meeting of the federal cabinet held here chaired by him, the prime minister said he had issued orders to completely digitize the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as soon as possible to avoid tax evasions.

In this regard, he said that a consultant was being hired for the purpose which would be appointed by next month.

PM Shehbaz regretted that trillions of rupees were being evaded by the mafias. Such mafias, he said run businesses worth billions of rupees but they pay zero tax due to undocumented transactions. With digitization of the FBR, such mafias would be exposed and apprehended, he said.

He said Rs 2.4 trillion worth of tax cases were currently pending either in the tribunals or in the courts which needed to be concluded as early as possible. “I request the Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan to help early conclusion of all such sub-judice cases.”

Further, he said he had also directed to draw a list of honest and efficient officers to encourage them and acknowledge their services. On the other hand, the prime minister vowed to take strict action against the officers involved in corrupt activities.

He pointed out that in the previous government, the coalition government had saved the country when it was on the verge of being default by putting its politics at stake.

Similarly he said the annual power theft in the country was around Rs 500 billion which was alarmingly high and needed to be stopped immediately.

“I have categorically told the concerned authorities to present a comprehensive road map for complete elimination of the electricity theft and pilferage in the country,” he said adding that in this way any kind of resistance will not be accepted.

“There will be zero tolerance…there will be no tolerance to this theft and pilferage.”

As regards the government’s programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the prime minister expressing satisfaction over conclusion of staff level agreement with the Fund for the final tranche of US$1.1 billion, said that Pakistan needed another IMF programme to strengthen its economic foundation and to get rid of the debts.

He said during his recent meetings with the diplomats of the friendly countries, he conveyed them that the government was eager to enhance bilateral relations with those countries in terms of trade and investment.

He said under the umbrella of Special Investment Facilitation Center (SIFC), the government will provide one window option to the investors to enable them complete their due process without any hassle.

The prime minister said all the provinces should support the federal government to achieve its goals of bringing a halt to power theft and tax evasion.

Earlier, PM Shehbaz Sharif paid tribute to the armed forces personnel who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country’s security.

He said the terrorism in Pakistan had been completely eradicated from the country due to exemplary sacrifices of the armed forces personnel and the civilians. However, he regretted that few years ago, this menace of terrorism surfaced again in certain areas of the country.

“Almost 70,000 to 80,000 Pakistanis, including those from law enforcing agencies, police, professionals, and others sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country’s security,” he remarked.

He said a couple of days back, he visited the residences of Lt Colonel Syed Kashif Shaheed and Captain Ahmed Badar Shaheed and was impressed by the determination and courage showed by the bereaved family members.

The prime minister also committed to stop infiltration of terrorists from across the border saying that it will not be born by the Pakistan government at any cost.

“We want to live with the neighborly countries in peaceful atmosphere and we also want to enhance trade and other bilateral relations with them. However, he said “we will not tolerate any kind of terrorism under no circumstances from across the border”.

He also asked the neighborly country to sit together and help Pakistan eradicating the terrorism and poverty from the region.

Earlier, the cabinet members paid tribute and offered Fateha for the martyrs of a terrorist attack that took place in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan on March 16.