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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

World

Pakistan wastes up to $72 mn a day: watchdog
AFP
Islamabad, December 13, 2012
First Published: 19:37 IST(13/12/2012)
Last Updated: 19:40 IST(13/12/2012)

Pakistan wastes a whopping $51 to $72 million every day as a result of inefficiency, corruption and tax shortcomings, the head of an anti-corruption watchdog said on Thursday.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said the losses come from leaks, corruption and incompetence, tax losses, land grabbing, loans and defaults, overstaffing, energy losses, project delays, cost overruns, administrative costs and foreign exchange outflow.

"There are daily losses of five to seven billion rupees ($51.34 million to $71.88 million)," NAB chairman Fasih Bokhari told a news conference.

But he did not explain how he had calculated the losses in monetary terms to reach this staggering estimate of wastage.

"This is the average data I'm giving you," he said.

The NAB, which is answerable to the Pakistani president, was accused by the government of making ill-timed allegations ahead of elections.

In the past, the Supreme Court has accused it of being ineffective.

According to the World Bank, Pakistan's GDP in 2011 was $211.1 billion, which would make losses of USD 61 million a day equal to around 10% of GDP.

The country suffers from a debilitating energy crisis and has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world, estimated at 9.2% of GDP.

Only 260,000 out of 180 million citizens have paid tax consecutively for the last three years, according to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Pakistan was ranked 139 out of 174 on Transparency International's 2012 corruption perceptions index and corruption is considered an endemic problem.

The Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan said on Wednesday that more than 60% of the cabinet and two thirds of federal lawmakers dodged tax payments in 2011.

Lawmakers have their salaries taxed at source, but a spokesman for the FBR said they are required to file tax returns for other sources of income, although agriculture, for example, is exempt.

Of those who did pay, most made only negligible contributions.


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