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Imran Khan’s third amnesty scheme will ‘legalise I’ll gotten wealth’, say Pakistanis

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s third ‘amnesty scheme’ since 2018, which will allow industrialists to ‘turn their black money into white’, isn’t just another U-turn from his pre-office days but also a “slap on the face of poor people”, according to many Pakistanis. Unsurprisingly, Pakistani media and social media users had a critical take on it.

So, what’s the scheme? Pakistani industrialists can invest in the country’s manufacturing sector and set up new units at a 5 per cent tax rate without any fear of an investigation on the source of investment. Moreover, companies can acquire ‘sick industrial units’ and avail tax benefits for three years. For overseas Pakistanis, the scheme provides them the facility to freely take back the profits after making investment. The cut-off date to avail the amnesty scheme is December 2022.

Several social media users called out PM Khan on his ‘hypocrisy’, pointing out that he had earlier criticised the amnesty scheme on several occasions. They dug up Khan’s past tweets calling the scheme an unfair policy that rewarded “tax evaders” while penalising honest taxpayers.

Addressing a ceremony in Lahore on Tuesday, Imran Khan said that the decision was taken to bolster industrial development. “A country develops when there is wealth creation, without it they cannot move forward,” he said, adding that government policies that are against profit-making can be detrimental to growth of industry and investment opportunities.

Also read: ‘Go to hell’ — Imran Khan govt faces journalists’ wrath on new law curbing dissent

‘Legalising’ black money

Despites Imran Khan’s optimistic speech, many Pakistani journalists appeared to be wary of the ‘amnesty scheme’.

Dawn‘s Khalid Hasnain wrote how Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which prided itself as being a party valuing transparency, was “legalising ill-gotten wealth”. Hasnain quoted an expert from Sustainable Development Policy Institute, who said that it “wasn’t good for the economy” and it was a “political move and nothing more.”

An editorial in Business Recorder argued that the scheme could act as a “disincentive to the honest taxpayers, a claim made not only repeatedly by the IMF but also by the Prime Minister before he took oath.”

“The number of amnesty schemes rivals almost the number of IMF programmes that Pakistan has taken and it must be borne in mind that none of the schemes has generated a significant amount of foreign exchange,” the editorial further said.

Helping the ‘crooks’

One Pakistani journalist said Imran Khan’s scheme was meant for “crooks” and “fraudsters”, with Twitter users largely agreeing with it.

One user called it a “slap on the face of poor people” while another remarked how PTI “continues to roll out the red carpet for tax evaders” and only those at the bottom of the food chain will be prevented from availing it.

Irrespective of bitter criticism, there were supporters of Imran Khan who hailed it as “the most successful amnesty scheme ever launched.”

The supporters believed that it was Imran Khan’s way of “rejecting” western leverage imposed through IMF and FATF.

Source: The Print

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