Pakistan an example for world to achieve tax transparency, explains Umar Cheema

Geo and Jang Group’s investigative journalist Umar Cheema recently wrote a report stating that Pakistan has set an example for other countries to follow when it comes to tax disclosure by politicians.

Umar Cheema recently wrote an article in The Guardian, describing how Pakistan caught up with its tax evasion woes.

Tax collection around the world remains a grey area, as often the policies tend to favour the affluent of the society, he wrote in the article. Some years ago, Pakistan also ranked among the countries who had a miserable record when came to tax disclosure, he further stated.

In 2011, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had made a speech in the parliament over budget saying that Pakistan ranked at the 152 spot out of 154, in tax-to-GDP ratio.  Apart from this, in the year 2011, around 70%Pakistani had not filed income tax returns, Cheema mentioned.

Following just a few years, the country made exemplary strides regarding tax transparency, he said.

He went as far as to say that when it comes to tax submission by politicians, major personalities such as Philip Hammond and Donald Trump can take a leaf out of Pakistan’s book.

According to the journalist: “Since 2014, the Pakistan government now lists on its website, in alphabetical order, the total annual tax paid by all companies and individuals. Norway, Sweden and Finland have been doing this for decades.”

Cheema said that Pakistan has now made tax-related data public, which concerns citizens and law-makers alike.

He argued that bringing forth tax data to the public can help politicians establish a connection with public and gain their trust.

“Last week, 20 other leading investigative journalists from around the world and I met in London to discuss ways we can all follow my work in Pakistan. Afterwards, we sent letters to 7,000 politicians from 20 countries, urging them to disclose their tax records. If they do not respond they will be named and shamed,” he writes in the article.

While speaking to Geo News, Cheema said that it is a great feat that Pakistan is setting an example for other countries to follow.

Recently, the journalist’s campaign on the taxes of Pakistani politicians gained worldwide attention.

A London-based organisation launched on Tuesday the campaign as a global initiative by writing letters to 7,000 politicians in 20 countries asking them to disclose their taxes in the public interest.

Via: Geo News