Prime Minister Imran Khan urged citizens to declare their benami assets and bank accounts under the government’s Assets Declaration Scheme by June 30 in order to avoid legal action.
In a video message released on Thursday, the prime minister said that the scheme was a “chance for [the people] to declare their benami properties and bank accounts” so they can become a part of the tax net.
He revealed that only one per cent of the population pays taxes.
“One per cent Pakistanis are bearing the burden of 220 million people. This is impossible,” he said. “No country can serve its people if the citizens don’t pay taxes.”
He cautioned that government institutions were gathering data regarding undeclared assets and wealth at home and abroad that are owned by Pakistanis.
“It is better that you serve Pakistan and declare your wealth,” the premier said. “This would [enable] us to create a better future for our children, make our country self-reliant and uplift poor people. Most importantly, [by declaring your assets] you would be able to sleep peacefully. You would not have to worry about institutions coming after you. If you declare your assets, it will benefit everyone.”
“This will also pull our country out of these difficult times we are facing,” Prime Minister Imran added.
“I guarantee that your tax money will be spent on you and this country. I also guarantee that I will not allow [anyone] to steal your money,” he promised.
The Assets Declaration Scheme was approved by the cabinet after much deliberation and was announced earlier this month by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Under the scheme, assets within the country and abroad (except for real estate) can be whitened after paying a rate of four per cent. The whitened cash assets will have to be kept in Pakistani bank accounts.
For people wanting to keep their whitened money abroad, a rate of 6pc will be charged.
For the declaration of real estate, its value will be considered 1.5 times more than the FBR-assigned value to bring it at par with the market rate, Dr Shaikh announced.
The amnesty scheme also has the facility for citizens to whiten their benami accounts and properties before the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 2017, is enforced.
The scheme was announced two days after the government reached a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund about a $6bn bailout to implement an “ambitious structural reform agenda” over a period of 39 months.