• Says no interference to be allowed in ‘major surgery’ undertaken for collective good of Pakistan
  • COAS assures military’s unwavering support for economic recovery of country

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said the government will not allow any political or bureaucratic interference in the campaign to curb smuggling, corruption, power theft and tax evasion in the country.

“No political and bureaucratic influence will be allowed to interfere in this major surgery which we have to undertake collectively for the good of Pakistan and its 250 million people,” the prime minister said while chairing a meeting on the agenda of: “Measures against Spectrum of illegal activities & Criminal Mafias,” according to Radio Pakistan.

Members of the Federal Cabinet, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Syed Asim Munir, NI (M), Provincial Chief Ministers and high-level government officials were present in the meeting.

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The PM said it was very important to understand the real challenges of the country and then immediately fix them to revive and stabilize the economy.

For this, he said all stakeholders including the provinces, institutions, and armed forces will have to collaborate with the federal government to tackle one of the most important challenge of revival of economy.

PM Shehbaz said illegal trade and smuggling were the biggest challenges that had badly dented the country’s economy.

He recalled that in 2022, the coalition government allowed export of 250,000 tons of sugar, but it had to withdraw its decision “because we were told that the surplus target was not up to that level”. However, he said the same amount of sugar was later exported to Afghanistan.

Similarly, the prime minister pointed out that the country had to face loss of around Rs400 to 500 billion annually in term of power theft, whereas leakages, transmission losses and line losses of electricity were other than that.

As regards tax revenues, he said the government’s target this year was Rs9 trillion. But it has the potential of collecting Rs4 trillion extra revenues by streamlining the tax system and by curbing corruption and tax evasion.

He said a tax amount of Rs2.7 trillion was still under litigation either in tribunals or in appellant courts. The government, he said would try its best to recover this amount.

Appreciating the efforts of Chief of Army Staff in curbing smuggling and power theft, the prime minister said during the nine months of interim government, an amount of Rs58 billion was saved in power sector.

Similarly, a significant improvement was witnessed in smuggling in the country due to the commitment, will to do, and cooperation of all provinces, and the personal commitment and interest of the Chief of Army Staff, the prime minister added.

Besides initiating reforms in certain sectors, he said the government was also committed to promote industry and agriculture sector in the country.

He informed that the government had chalked out a plan to fully digitize the system of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to boost the tax revenues in the country.

He said the well reputed and honest officers will be encouraged while the corrupt element will be discouraged.

As regards law and order situation, the prime minister said the government was determined to foil the evil designs of the enemy.

The Chief of the Army Staff assured unwavering resolve of Pakistan Army to support government’s initiatives aimed at economic recovery of the country.

During the meeting, the participants acknowledged the importance of such actions and their positive impact on the economy and wellbeing of the people of Pakistan.

The meeting showed firm resolve to take action against smugglers, hoarders and market manipulators, who have impacted the economic trajectory and to provide immediate relief to common citizens.

The meeting gave approval to agreements among Federal and Provincial governments on Anti-Power Theft policy, restructuring of Power Distribution Companies on modern lines, installation of Smart meters for full eradication of Power Theft and ordered strict action against the corrupt officers.

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