Uproar in Pakistan as Opposition, Netizens Decry PM Khan's 'Aleema Tax'
The opposition has alleged that to let people settle foreign assets by paying taxes aimed to help PM Khan's Aleema Khanum, who was under scanner for owning undeclared foreign properties in countries like the UAE and the US.
Prime Minister Imran Khan's sister Aleema Khanum. (Image: Reuters)
Islamabad: The Pakistan government has added a new clause in the mini budget to allow tax authorities to settle the undeclared foreign assets of tax evaders, drawing strong criticism from netizens amid the row over Prime Minister Imran Khan's sister owing undeclared properties abroad.
The measures were announced by finance minister Asad Umar on Wednesday to speed up growth by facilitating investment.
The opposition leaders have objected the amendment made in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 and the measures to give tax relief by Umar were dubbed on social media as 'Aleema Tax', referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan's sister, bringing a lot of pressure on government.
The opposition has alleged that to let people settle foreign assets by paying taxes aimed to help Aleema Khanum, who was under scanner for owning undeclared foreign properties in countries like the UAE and the US.
Umar was flustered when asked about it during a press conference on Thursday and angrily said that Aleema had already settled the issue by paying tax, Dawn newspaper reported.
"She has nothing to do with all this. These are all mere accusations," said Umar, adding that Aleema Khanum was asked about the money trail and she gave it to the court.
She was directed to pay the penalty and she deposited it with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), he added.
Senator Sherry Rehman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) tweeted that the name of the beneficiary of this clause was obvious without naming anybody.
"The budget with a quiet amnesty clause for undeclared offshore wealth. No prizes for guessing who this will serve... the Senate is still working," she tweeted
A blunt statement was made by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb soon after the amended budget was presented on Wednesday. She said the whole exercise was aimed to protect Aleema from her tax non-declarations.
"Aleema baji is a tax thief, and that is why this mini-budget was initiated, the scheme would regularise the undeclared overseas wealth of Imran Khan," Aurangzeb said in her statement, adding that the "FBR has been empowered to regularise any overseas properties under this mini-budget."
The initial response from the official side was by Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar as he tweeted that the amendment was not an amnesty scheme.
He tweeted: "In fact it's the opposite. It enhances powers of the FBR for provisional assessment of tax evasion in offshore assets cases.
Azhar added that no changes had been made in the existing laws related to money laundering and money smuggling.
It is pertinent to mention that former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for hiding his salary in UAE and later jailed for not giving trail of money to acquire assets in UK.
Similarly, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari is facing courts for alleged money laundering.
Opposition blamed Khan's government that special treatment was given to Aleema who had properties in the UAE and the US.
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