Izzat Hayat works in the private sector
It is widely acknowledged by friends and foe alike that Shabbar Zaidi spelling doomstint as Chairman FBR ended in abject failure. His failure was not surprising as he possessed not an iota of financial expertise to manage an intricate revenue collecting enterprise such as FBR and he proved completely out of depth when confronted with the realities of taxation practices. It was his naiveté that gave the hybrid regime the idea that the revenue collection will be quadrupled in just one financial year and this mantra was often proclaimed by the leaders of the former regime in public. The real supporters of the regime were also convinced that Shabbar Zaidi was the man needed to shake the pagoda tree and revenue will come down raining heavy. However, it was very clear then to the saner minds that he was taking them for a ride as his only expertise was to gain tax concession under flimsy pretexts for his wealthy clients who wanted to avoid paying due taxes.
As is the wont of people who fail at tasks they have not the ability to undertake successfully Shabbar Zaidi has started to bark at the wrong tree and has started to criticise the very system he once rushed to serve and is giving figures that he obtained when he headed FBR without realising that he simply failed to right the wrongs when he was at the helm of affairs. He laments about the very low number of tax filers in the country but the same was the number when he headed the tax organisation but he did nothing to increase the numbers and surely would have known the reasons for it then why does not he also explain the reasons?
In his misplaced zeal as a reformer he advises economic measures that are foolish, to say the least. He advocated that no personal vehicle should ply on roads for three days in a week without realising that Pakistan has no adequate public transport system and in its absence how people are going to get to work? He asks for reducing flights to the Gulf countries by half but fails to realise that most of the passengers travelling on these flights are the Pakistani overseas workers and their families. He should have known as former Chairman FBR that overseas Pakistanis bring crucial foreign exchange to Pakistan and they and their families cannot be forced to travel in and out of the country.
The suggestion to limit commercial hours between 8am to 6pm is an old one but it runs contrary to the weather patterns of the country. It suits people to indulge in commercial activity in the cool of the evenings and Shabbar Zaidi should take cognizance of this fact and should not copy paste such oft-repeated suggestion. He should also take into account that usage of heavy vehicles is the lifeline of economies globally as railways have limited access and could operate from fixed points. Somebody should inform the blockhead Shabbar Zaidi that the costs of supply through heavy vehicles is built in the overall cost mechanism of merchandise therefore saving $500 million is a nonsensical figure. The figures he gives are all armchair calculations widely considered churned out by the type of accounting firms he heads that create more confusion to put pressure on traders to hire them to sort out their taxation matters so that they could be milked in the process.
The most serious objection to Shabbar Zaidi’s so-called financial emergency proposal is its content that is dictatorial in nature. It aims at curtailing basic liberties and fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan such as stopping them from travelling and moving from one place to the other on their free will. His suggestions are all negative and restrictive treating people as nothing more than a horde devoid of any civic rights just because he, and people like him, have failed to manage the country’s economy properly. As a result he wants to deprive people from getting their children educated at institutions they want so that they can pursue better career prospects. He wants that they should become hermits staying quietly at homes so that incompetent financiers like him can fix the economy. Shabbar Zaidi is required to get his facts right and should be given a crash course in economics so that he properly learns his trade. TW