KABUL (Reuters) – One of Afghanistan’s most surprising success stories lies tucked away on a potholed street notorious for suicide bombings and lined with rusting construction equipment.
The work of the country’s top tax collector is more inspiring than the view from his office in Kabul. Taxes and customs raised $1.64 billion last financial year, a 14-fold increase on 10 years ago. That means, now, the government can pay just over half of its recurrent costs such as salaries.
Thanks to tougher enforcement procedures, Afghanistan’s tax to GDP ratio today stands above 11 percent – ahead of neighboring Pakistan’s dismal 9 percent.
Last week, I had expressed hope that in the coming days we would make the hard decisions needed to prevent our country from sliding into anarchy and chaos. We would not then remain the country to which Muammar Qaddafi would point as an example of what could happen to Libya if his dictatorial regime was brought to an end.
Developments during the past week have not, to say the least, been encouraging. First we had the budget, in which no genuine effort seems to have been made to raise the tax base or to address impediments — energy shortages among others — and yet we have concluded that our deficit will remain under control and that growth will have an upward trajectory. Are we going to continue to go down the path of foreign aid dependency and have a government ‘of the elite by the elite and for the elite’ that taxes the poor and the now dwindling middle class mercilessly to nourish the ‘fat cats’ in the ranks of the bureaucracy and the political establishment? Can we not levy direct taxes that would bring the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15 per cent? Can we not spend more on education and health? Can we not stop treating the defence budget as beyond question? …
ANALYSIS: Why don’t black Americans swim? — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
…only five out of 24 SHC judges are of Sindhi origin. Sindhi lawyers contend that the ratio of Sindhi judges is not being maintained. They demand equal ratio of judges in the SHC and a just ratio between the interior [rural] and Karachi. They say no fresh appointments should be made from Karachi, as 19 out of Sindh’s 22 districts are completely ignored, which is a violation of the fundamental and social rights of the people of Sindh. They say they will not accept the decision of the JC if lawyers from interior Sindh are not elevated.
Remarkably, as there are few black swimmers in the US today, here until 1971, there was no Bengali player in the cricket team. Today, they have a team that comprehensively defeated New Zealand recently. …