Imran Khan’s promises by Asad Umer
This is in reference to Dr Farrukh Saleem’s article titled “PTI reforms package: four pillars, four questions.” I would like to thank the writer for asking specific questions, as the PTI wants an informed debate on its economic vision and find solutions.
Is it time for Imran Khan to review his 90-day promise to finish corruption?
Imran Khan has said that top-level corruption will be ended within 90 days of the PTI’s coming to power. As far as dealing with the problem of corruption which has pervaded every aspect of life, the PTI economic vision has laid out a number of steps dealing with structural causes of corruption, which include:
1. The National Accountability Bureau to have its own investigative and prosecution arm outside the purview of the Executive.
2. A special task force to recover looted national wealth stashed outside the country.
3. Removal of public sector enterprises (PSEs) from control of line ministries.
4. Strengthen the regulators by insulating from political influence, increasing the capacity to act against cartels and speculators.
5. Civil service reforms to increase transparency and greater accountability
6. Elimination of the culture of specific SROs to reward favourites.
7. Elimination of discretionary funds under the control of prime ministers, chief ministers and others.
8. No development funds for MNAs and MPAs
9. Deployment of technology to monitor physical flow of goods across borders and enhanced use of the digital database to catch tax evaders.
10. Law of pre-eminent domain: the state given powers to take over under-declared property.
11. End to benami transactions.
12. Devolution of power and control to the communities over expenditures.
13. Operationalising “access to information” laws to empower citizens to join the fight against corruption.
Plan seeks to increase taxation but in July 2010 Imran Khan opposed the imposition of VAT
There is resistance to consumption-based indirect taxes due to the inequitable tax structure in place today. The rich and powerful do not pay taxes, whereas the burden of taxation is placed on the masses through indirect taxes. Hence, the PTI aims for a comprehensive tax reform agenda. The first priority for the PTI is to tax the rich and powerful outside the tax net through measures such as minimum asset tax (adjustable against income tax), agriculture tax on large landowners and property tax measures.
If Imran Khan is serious about decreasing PSE losses his government will have to lay off hundreds of thousands of political appointees. Is that part of the plan?
Losses of public-sector entities (PSEs) accounted for Rs512 billion. The major expenditure under this account is so-called subsidies to the power sector, accounting for Rs464 billion. Conversion from furnace oil to imported coal, revamp of existing generation capacity and T&D system and other technical and managerial changes can completely eliminate these losses without any retrenchment of employees. Similarly, repairing rail engines and getting freight traffic back up to 14 million tons where it was four years ago, compared to six million tons now, would lead to a big reduction in the Railways’ losses.
The PTI’s vision of ending loadshedding depends on bringing down the cost of generating electricity. Our power generation depends on imported oil and the PTI has absolutely no control over the international price of oil
Central to the PTI’s energy plan is conversion of more then 4,000MWs of plants run on expensive imported oil to significantly lower cost imported coal. The cost of producing energy from imported coal is less then half of the cost of producing from furnace oil. In the long term, development of the hydroelectric potential and Thar coal, along with renewable energy, would be at the heart of Pakistan’s energy portfolio.
The writer is senior vice president of the PTI.