Even as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that the government will impose a 10% “super tax” on large-scale industries to strengthen revenues and help with poverty alleviation in a time of rising inflation and pressure from international financial institutions, Pakistani social media erupted in debate.
In the aftermath of the PM’s speech, the Pakistan Stock Exchange plummeted, as the KSE-100 index saw a 2,053-point drop before trading was halted. The sectors to be taxed include sugar, oil and gas, cement, steel, airlines, fertilisers, LNG terminals, textile, banking, automobile, cigarettes, beverages, and chemicals.
Supporters of the new measure have used the hashtag #TaxTheRich to express their view. Meanwhile, a number of leaders and supporters of the former ruling PTI have expressed their opposition to the measures announced. PTI General Secretary Asad Umar opined that it would “rattle the economy” and that it will be “a huge blow to the growing industries.”
Meanwhile former federal minister from the PTI Hammad Azhar tweeted that this would mean “taxing the already taxed even more.”
Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin told the government that the market “does not believe you.”
The PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry highlighted the stock market’s response to the new measure:
Many voices on social media, especially a number of economy-watchers, have welcomed the decision by the government, arguing that it prevents the tax burden from being shifted further onto middle-income earners.
Finance and economy journalist Khurram Hussain joined the chorus of support for the ‘Super Tax’ announced today:
Economist Ammar Khan tweeted:
Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center Uzair Younus tweeted:
Economics scholar Zehra Farooq concluded a thread on the background to the ‘Super Tax’ measure by tweeting:
Commentators took a comparative view of the ‘Super Tax’ with other possible measures that might have been adopted in the current situation:
For his part, historian Ammar Ali Jan commented: