Walkathon against tax evasion held

ISLAMABAD: First of its kind of walkathon against tax evasion was held Sunday at the Jinnah Avenue of the federal capital to create awareness among the general masses about the impact of tax evasion on the formal economy and documented sector.

A peaceful and fun walkathon, HumQadm, was arranged by Behtar Pakistan, a think tank, to create awareness against tax evasion especially in the cigarette industry. Participants informed that almost every third cigarette has illicit origins. Local illegal cigarettes manufacturers are making an economic dent of almost Rs 70 billion every year.

This walkathon was from the bus chowk to the express chowk on Jinnah Avenue. Participants were made aware of how illicit cigarette manufacturers evade taxes and annually cost the national exchequer billions.

Multiple celebrities including politicians, showbiz stars, media, civil society along with the general public from all walks of life took part in this awareness walk against the blatant violations minimum price and tax laws by local illicit manufacturers and actively voiced their concerns over the need to plug this huge tax evasion.

According to data shared with the participants, of the total cigarette sector, only two companies which have a market share of 60percent, pay 98 percent of total taxes to the national exchequer. The remaining 40% of the market, captured by illicit cigarette manufacturers, who pay only 2 percent of total taxes. Prime Minister Imran Khan, on multiple occasions, has expressed grave concern about this menace of illicit trade and has also directed relevant government institutions to curb illegal trade.

Organizers of this walk stressed that the annual Rs 70 billion loss to the national exchequer must be corrected by strengthening enforcement efforts and proper check and balance must be ensured. Minimum price and tax violators must be brought to justice.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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