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PM Imran Khan calls upon nation to pay taxes so country can prosper

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the inauguration ceremony of the ICCI Pakistan Property, Housing, and Construction Expo in Islamabad, on September 3, 2021. — INP

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called upon the nation to pay taxes, if they wish to see the country prosper.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the ICCI Pakistan Property, Housing, and Construction Expo in Islamabad, the premier said: “You must pay taxes so we can improve the infrastructure and fulfil your basic needs such as education, health, good roads, electricity.”

He regretted that the people do not do so and then demand facilities, “like having done no good deeds and still desiring to go to heaven”.

“Pay taxes so the wealth of the country can increase,” he stressed.

Govt’s efforts to boost construction sector

Speaking of the government’s efforts to improve the way the construction sector operates, the premier said that in the past, there was no concept of mortgage financing, so there was no question of a government servant being able to construct their own home.

“We spent two years getting the foreclosure law passed by the courts, which has now paved the way for banks to provide mortgage financing, meaning financing for houses,” he said.

“And then this will mean that our 220 million population will become our asset. It will generate demand, which will lead to more construction and more construction, in turn, will mean a rise in the growth of all associated sectors,” the prime minister added.

The prime minister said that last year, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, he called the head of the International Monetary Fund and sought concessions for the construction sector. “And the aim was to create opportunities for the common man to earn a livelihood.”

“Because when you impose a lockdown, the poor segment of society is the first to get crushed. Due to coronavirus lockdowns, the entire world has witnessed a rise in poverty levels,” he said.

He regretted bureaucratic red tape which has prevented a boom in businesses. “Instead of encouraging growth, the bureaucracy starts to think for itself, of how it can make money.”

“It takes time to change such a system,” the premier said, adding that it also required a change in the mindset.

“There are still obstacles but we have incentives that were never before seen for the construction industry,” he said.

The prime minister promised that the government will continue to increase incentives and is constantly trying to bring reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

PM Imran Khan said that the country can only progress if it takes care of its youth and poor and “the construction industry is one that provides the most number of jobs”.

“This is the first step we can take towards creating employment, then wealth creation and revenue, and subsequently in meeting expenses. When your economy grows, you are able to pay back debts.

“So the first contributing factor in our economic growth will be the construction sector.”

He also spoke of the need to increase exports, regretting that no one saw beyond increasing the exports of the textile sector.

The prime minister, speaking of Singapore “a small city-state”, said that it has $300 billion worth of exports, whereas Pakistan is hoping to push its exports to $30bn soon.

‘No country can progress that has few rich and a sea of poor’

Speaking in greater detail of what the government has envisioned, the premier said that it aims to lift up the weaker segments of society.

“No country can progress that has a small section of the rich, with a sea of poor people to comprise the remaining population,” PM Imran Khan said.

The prime minister said that had this been possible, then things would not have changed so dramatically for China. He said 35 years ago India and China were at an economically similar level, but now China is leaps and bounds ahead of India, which has “a sea of poor people”.

He said China was able to life 700-800 million people out of poverty and “became a superpower, whereas India is still where it was”.

“Pakistan has to progress. And this is the Riyasat-e-Madina model. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) lifted people up out of poverty. He created the first welfare state.”

PM Imran Khan said a welfare state is that which fulfils the needs of its weaker segments. “This is the government’s responsibility,” he said.

The premier said bringing people out of poverty is one of Pakistan’s foremost challenges and was “never paid any attention”.

“We never drafted a policy for the lower income segments. We had English medium schools for the elite and for the rest, a different education system. There were jobs for the rich and the others could never climb the ladder. Government hospitals used to be good when I was growing up, but now we see only private facilities which are good, but which only the rich can afford, whereas government hospitals have declined in the quality of their services,” PM Imran Khan said.

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