Gilgit-Baltistan’s corporations, not people to be taxed: Baig

GILGIT: Taxes will not be levied on the economically challenged people of Gilgit-Baltistan and corporate organisations will be taxed, the acting governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, Wazir Baig, said.

“It will be a corporate tax and will not be levied on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan,” the governor clarified to The Express Tribune on Tuesday when contacted. The people are not very rich and their being taxed will not increase the resources of the region.

Last week, a computer error in the pay slips of some government officials had led to the deduction of three per cent ‘income tax’ from their salaries. The Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) later clarified the situation, saying that it was a mistake and that the officials would be paid back the deducted amount next month. However, politicians, especially nationalists leaders, vehemently opposed it and termed it as unconstitutional because Gilgit-Baltistan is not a part of Pakistan as per the constitution.

“It may be like taxing the multinational companies working in the region in the telecom sector,” said Baig when asked to explain about the corporate tax. Baig is currently looking after the region’s affairs as Gilgit-Baltistan’s governor after the death of the Dr Shama Khalid.

He said that the issue of taxes would not be debated in the assembly. “We will discuss the issue once we get the minutes of the meeting which was held with the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.”

Sources said that the prime minister had in principle agreed that taxes would be imposed but the terms are yet to be decided, such as the items and whom it would be imposed on.

“We are analysing the system before imposing it formally,” said the region’s Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhtar on Tuesday. “Everything is being done in the best interest of the people and the region,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2010.

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