Black money being invested in real estate


Karachi: Trillions of rupees of black money have been invested in the real estate sector and if the government launches a systematic probe into this sensitive issue it could not only fight corruption but also earn tax revenue of billions of rupees.

Bribery corruption, tax evasion, under invoicing and corporate frauds is a routine matter in Pakistan and the government machinery is either itself corrupt or it lack capacity to detect this wrongdoing, or both. As a result corruption elements always find a way to save their ill-gotten money and funnel it into different sectors, especially real estate. The big fish prefer to invest in real estate markets of Dubai, Malaysia, USA and Europe, while small fish invest their money in local real estate market, mainly Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and other cities.

Supreme Court Bar Association former president Yaseen Azad said the government could earn huge revenue if it takes a firm action against funnelling of the black money in the real estate sector. He said under-invoicing of very costly plots and properties is common in Pakistan. To save taxes and duties people show the properties worth Crores of rupees in Lakhs, thus depriving the State from huge duties and taxes. He said a proper mechanism can be devised to end this tax and duty evasion. He said the government rates for different categories of plots are too low to their real market value and they should be adjusted realistically.

Pasban e Pakistan President Altaf Shakoor said due to unrealistic tax slabs people do not disclose their real income and this black money is invested in real estate and other sectors. The government should announce proper amenity schemes for whitening this black money. He said corruption is a curse of Pakistani society. He said not only majority of the government departments of corrupt but regretfully their watchdog bodies are not free from corruption. This is vicious circle affecting the lives of ordinary Pakistanis.

Voice Against Corruption President Ahsan Bari said the government should verify each and every transaction of real estate worth Rs1million or above. This verification should include the names of the buyer and sellers. Their families’ CINC record through the NADRA data and connections/ relations of these family members and their immediate relatives to government employees, politicians, traders, NGOs, police, and other related departments, including investigation agencies.

He suggested that there should be a computerized tracking record of all costly plots, lands and luxury vehicles so as to know that who is their real owner and beneficiary. He said in Pakistan even officers of grade 17 or below are living a life that is too luxurious as compared to their salaries. He said if the government just check the record of fees of costly schools and medical bills of top hospitals of Pakistan, and purchasing of air travel tickets, it can easily detect hundreds of thousands corrupt bureaucrats and officials. He suggested raising the capacity building of tax collecting and crime investigation agencies which should include a closer watch on the officers and officials of these very agencies and departments. He said the cancer of corruption has already spread to whole society but the first step to fight it is to purge the government departments from corruption.