ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government wastes a whopping $51m to $72m every day as a result of inefficiency, corruption and tax shortcomings, the head of an anti-corruption watchdog said yesterday.
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 ($51.34m to $71.88m),” 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 told reporters.
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 $211.1bn, which would make losses of $61m a day equal to around 10 percent 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 percent 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 Centre for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan said Wednesday that more than 60 percent of the cabinet and two thirds of federal lawmakers dodged tax payments last year (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.
The Supreme Court sacked prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in June for contempt after refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen graft cases against President Zardari, as part of a power struggle between the judiciary and the government.
A 2007 amnesty allowed 8,000 people, including politicians, to escape charges related to 3,478 cases ranging from murder, embezzlement and abuse of power to write-offs of bank loans worth millions of dollars.
The Supreme Court overturned the amnesty in December 2009.