Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain said on Wednesday that the IMF loan was a short-term option to save the country from bankruptcy.
The poor and the middle class are forced to bear the entire burden of the IMF conditions as a large portion of the economy remains undocumented, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the inflation has broken the backs of tens of millions of people with no hope for them in sight.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that our taxation system is flawed and the share of direct taxes is very low; therefore, nobles and feudal lords are not burdened by the strict conditions of the IMF.
Non-filers, non-taxpayers, or nominal tax-paying sectors also escaped the effects of strict conditions, and taxpayer sectors have faced the problem, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that, on the one hand, poverty has increased, and the lives of the majority have become difficult, while on the other hand, the wealth of a handful of people has increased at an astonishing speed, and this process is still in full swing.
There was a little talk of change only when the wrong economic choices started to shake the foundations of the country, he said, adding that the IMF was persuaded to lend with great difficulty, but so far, no fundamental progress has been made towards privatizing failed state enterprises and documenting the economy.
The business leader said that the tax system is still imbalanced; those who earn billions of rupees are exempt from paying tax, while those who earn a few thousand pay heavy taxes.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that increased taxes have broken the backs of the people as well as the tax-paying business sectors, while the continuous increase in the prices of electricity, gas, and oil has compensated for the deficit.
Energy prices have further distressed the poor while rising business costs have threatened the future of agricultural and industrial production and exports in the country, for which it is imperative to reduce business costs.
Mian Zahid Hussain furthered that it is necessary to balance the tax system, to end the undocumented economy, to end the capacity of non-filers, and to sell the failed government institutions immediately.
Fundamental changes in policies should be made to improve the economy, while the time has come for all the political parties to come together on one platform before the election and agree on a charter of the economy so that the confidence of domestic and foreign investors is restored because the country is now quite weak and cannot withstand further economic shocks.