Growing aggression: China’s actions escalate in South China Sea - Business Guardian
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Growing aggression: China’s actions escalate in South China Sea

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In a clear display of a hardened stance towards the Philippines, Chairman Xi Jinping has evidently directed agencies such as the China Coast Guard (CCG), under his direct command, to exhibit increased assertiveness in the South China Sea. Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef positioned 194 kilometers west of the Philippine island of Palawan, has emerged as a significant hotspot in the region. This reef is notable for housing the Philippine Navy’s aging landing ship, BRP Sierra Madre, grounded in 1999 to reinforce Manila’s territorial assertion. Notably, Second Thomas Shoal is merely 32 kilometers away from China’s military base on Mischief Reef.

China has been harassing Philippine resupply missions to the Sierra Madre’s garrison of Philippine marines for more than a decade, but last year it intensified these efforts to an alarming scale. For example, a swarm of 38 Chinese vessels maneuvered recklessly and employed water cannon during a resupply mission on 10 November, 2023. Then, on 10 December, 2023, the CCG deliberately rammed a Philippine vessel. In further resupply missions this year, the CCG has routinely employed water cannon against Philippine civilian resupply vessels, resulting in damage to boats and injuries to crew.

Concerning the most recent incident in late March, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela complained, “Their barbaric act of using water cannon to attack the resupply boat that endangered the lives of the Filipino troops is a clear manifestation of their blatant disregard of international law.”

The CCG and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) are the culpable parties in these acts of gray-zone coercion, but the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plays a supporting role. For instance, a PLA Z-8 helicopter was recently filmed hovering low over a team of Philippine scientists on Sandy Cay, just 3km from Philippine-occupied Thitu Island, in a deliberate attempt to force them off the sandbar. Before they withdrew, the scientists confirmed that the fish and coral were in a “very poor state” amidst a manmade pile of rubble.

Chinese dredging and land reclamation have given that country an extra 1,300 hectares of land in the Spratly Islands. The Philippines occupies eight features in the Spratly Island chain, the largest of which is Thitu Island. PAFMM vessels have swarmed other shoals in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with 135 boats detected at Whitsun Reef last December, for example. Beijing’s sea control tactics feature swarming to achieve temporary local control, plus mission-kill actions like water cannon, ramming, and now the use of helicopters.

Unfortunately, the Philippines does not have the necessary fleet nor size of ships to effectively counter such tactics, plus it is reticent to employ more capable Philippine Navy assets in case it amplifies tensions.

Why is China doing this? It reflects Beijing’s exceptionalism stance, whereby it believes international law does not apply to it. The most obvious example is the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in 2016 that Beijing’s South China Sea territorial claims have no legal basis whatsoever. China is prosecuting aggressive expansionist maritime territorial claims, and it is adamant that it wants to control everything within its illegal and ambiguous Nine-Dash Line claim.

Sino-Philippine ties were relatively good under Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, primarily because he complied with Chinese demands. As long as the Philippine government remained subservient to Beijing, China held its forces in check. However, as soon as Manila stood up for its rights, China took its gloves off.

Today, China persistently refers to an “agreement” whereby the Philippines promised to remove Sierra Madre from Second Thomas Shoal. For example, China maintains that Manila “has gone back on its own words, refused to fulfill its commitment, repeatedly broken its promise made to China, and severely violated Article 5 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”.

The Philippines denies that any such agreement exists. Duterte possibly made such a commitment, but he certainly did not put it on paper because it would have been deeply unpopular at home. Furthermore, China has failed to provide any evidence of such an agreement.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been more proactive in defending Philippine sovereignty than Duterte ever was, and he has scotched any promises his predecessor may have made. In January 2023, Marcos met Xi, and they agreed to resolve differences peacefully. However, that very same month, Filipino fishermen inside the Philippine EEZ were chased away by the CCG, and the following month, the CCG aimed a laser at a PCG vessel.

The CCG is supposed to enforce maritime laws and enhance maritime safety. Instead, force is a blunt weapon in the government’s arsenal of nationalistic territory-grabbing and coercion. In the face of China’s blatant aggression, Manila has changed tactics. As PCG spokesman Tarriela pointed out, “The Philippine government has chosen to expose China’s aggression and unlawful actions in the West Philippine Sea. It is important to clarify that the escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea are not caused by the United States but by the PRC. While the US is an ally of the Philippines, it is not the root cause of the tensions. The Chinese government should avoid confusion and learn to recognize that if they were only sincere in their words and chose not to bully other countries in the South China Sea, tensions would not be as high. Unless, of course, what China means by lowering tension is being submissive or not reacting to their bullying and aggressive actions!”

From 2016 to June 2022, Manila filed 388 diplomatic protests against China concerning the latter’s actions in the South China Sea. The Marcos administration had filed an extra 147 protests as of late March 2024. Philippine-US ties rebounded after Duterte, who is staunchly anti-American, departed. However, the two Mutual Defense Treaty partners need to decide what an “armed confrontation” entails and how they will respond to Chinese provocation. The American military is stretched taut by current commitments and conflicts in places like Ukraine and the Middle East, though its P-8A aircraft have provided overwatch during Second Thomas Shoal resupply missions.

Manila’s induction of BrahMos coastal missile batteries and the eventual acquisition of multirole fighters will give the Philippines more heft, but such assets are wholly inappropriate against China’s gray-zone tactics. This is precisely Beijing’s purpose. It operates just under the threshold that it believes equates to armed conflict, but at the same time, it continues to push the boundaries. The PCG and Philippine Navy need a stronger presence to deter an emboldened China, though without unnecessarily stoking tensions.

China will not mind pressuring the Philippines into an unfortunate incident, as indicated by the following type of comment: Hu Xijin, a former editor of the Chinese Global Times tabloid, tweeted, “As a media professional, I strongly advocate that China should not fire the first shot in various frictions. This should be upheld as a principle of goodwill for peace in the South China Sea. But the Philippines should listen carefully. Once the Philippines fires the first shot, I fully support China’s PLA in making Philippine ships riddled with bullets. I believe most Chinese people will support it by then.” Collin Koh, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International in Singapore, countered, “[If the] PRC fires the first shot, it triggers the Mutual Defense Treaty. If the Philippines fires the first shot in defense of legitimate maritime interests and the PRC hits back, it also triggers the Mutual Defense Treaty. You may quibble whether the Americans will commit, but any prudent PRC defense planner won’t take these calculations in a cavalier manner.”

It is clear that a South China Sea Code of Conduct between China and other claimants, which Beijing has been stalling for years, will achieve nothing either. Instead, the Philippines needs to widen its circle of international supporters. Indeed, numerous nations have come out in favor of Manila and have lambasted China for its violent actions. Last year, the Philippines gave permission for the USA to access four new military sites, in addition to five already approved for American use. The USA is investing USD109 million in infrastructure improvements at seven of these bases.

On April 11, President Joe Biden will host President Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in their first-ever trilateral summit, which marks a growing confluence of support. As another example, Japan’s navy is planning to take part in a Philippine US military training exercise in the South China Sea later this year. The three conducted a trilateral coast guard exercise last year, all indications of increasing cooperation. Tokyo is expected to elevate the Philippines to a “quasi-ally” status, similar to the level of Australia or the UK.

China is highly critical of US support for the Philippines. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian asked, “Who has been stirring up trouble and making provocations on the South China Sea issue? Who has been breaching the common understandings between our two countries and reneging on their own commitments? Who has been staging a show and hyping up tensions? Who has been pulling forces outside the region to interfere in the issue?” Likewise, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines remarked that “inviting wolves into the house” and forming “exclusive cliques” would not help resolve South China Sea differences but would ultimately backfire. In a similar vein, Lou Qinjian, spokesperson for the Second Session of the 14th National People’s Congress, said last month, “China is opposed to bloc confrontation, and its cooperation with neighboring countries is open, inclusive, and not exclusive.” He accused Manila of “smearing China’s legitimate, reasonable, and restrained measures that aimed to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights.”.

Yet these territorial issues fall under the purview of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Manila anchors its claim on its legitimate EEZ as outlined by UNCLOS, while China’s basis is its “historical” Nine-Dash Line, which holds absolutely no legal authority. China’s argument is that it refused to participate in the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration case and that, therefore, it is not bound by its conclusions. However, the tribunal can proceed even if one party refuses to engage. That means that the validity and enforcement of the tribunal’s decisions do not hinge at all on China’s participation. By signing and ratifying the UNCLOS treaty itself, China has already bound itself to the court’s authority and rulings, despite protests to the contrary.

Unfortunately, China is encouraging its law enforcement and military personnel to be even more vigorous in enforcing illegal territorial claims. There is a legacy of idolizing military personnel who go beyond the call of duty, a prime example being PLA pilot Wang Wei, whose J-8II fighter collided with an American EP-3E reconnaissance plane 110km from the Chinese coast on April 1, 2001. Wang died as a result of his gung-ho antics, and the Singaporean academic Koh noted: “Wang was known before his demise for his bold, sometimes daredevil, and overzealous flying. His departure served as a rallying point for the Chinese Communist Party, and his ‘feats’ regularly upheld as a role model for younger generations of PLA combat aviators, which is itself worrisome.”

The Philippines has been using civilian vessels, supported by PCG boats, to resupply the Second Thomas Shoal garrison. It must now implement best practices for resupplying the garrison and eventually replace this grounded rust bucket that was only ever an interim solution. China’s actions have already prompted Manila to consider establishing a more permanent outpost there. For example, an oil platform-type structure that can land helicopters would increase the potential cost of Chinese interference. Naturally, restoring Philippine control over its EEZ requires the full spectrum of diplomatic, economic, and informational tools. Manila cannot afford to lose control of Second Thomas Shoal, as it did with Scarborough Shoal in 2012. In the face of such withering and dangerous Chinese actions, Manila must show strong resolve, a stance for which it needs the support of America and other allies.

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International Affairs

UAE commits $15 mm to ‘Amalthea Fund’ for Gaza relief

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In accordance with President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s instructions, the UAE has announced a USD 15 million allocation to support the “Amalthea Fund.” This initiative, endorsed by the Republic of Cyprus, aims to aid the maritime corridor initiative linking Cyprus and the Gaza Strip. The fund was established to facilitate and coordinate the flow of aid arriving in Gaza, and ensure that aid is delivered as effectively as possible.

The fund also aims to strengthen the capacity for the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, by providing flexible funding modalities for parties concerned with enhancing the humanitarian response to contribute to these endeavours. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) stressed in a statement that the UAE’s contribution to this fund stems from its commitment to address the worsening catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip through this multilateral cooperative approach, which achieved a historical precedent for helping the Palestinian people before the suspension of the maritime corridor between Cyprus and the Strip.

The Ministry underlined the importance of immediately mitigating the worsening catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Strip, and ensuring the immediate and widespread flow of aid, safely, unhindered, and sustainably delivered, through all available channels by land, air and sea.

The Ministry affirmed that within the historic commitment towards the brotherly Palestinian people, the UAE, under its wise leadership, continues to provide critical humanitarian aid and supplies to the Strip, and believes that the maritime corridor is part of a sustained effort to increase the urgent flow of aid and goods through all roads and mechanisms, while ensuring protection for relief workers.

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‘Birds of Goodness’ Airdrop delivers record aid to Northern Gaza

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The Joint Operations Command of the Ministry of Defence announced the successful completion of the 30th “Birds of Goodness” airdrop operation, delivering 125 tonnes of humanitarian aid and Eid clothing to northern Gaza.

The airdrop, which took place on April 10, 2024, was the largest to date and involved six aircraft: three C-17s from the UAE Air Force, two C295s and one C-130 from the Egyptian Air Force. The airdropped supplies encompassed essential food items alongside special Eid clothing parcels for families. These parcels contained clothes, toys, sweets, and various products for all family members.

The mission aimed to address the needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza during Eid Al Fitr, fostering hope and joy while alleviating their hardships. The operation targeted isolated areas in northern Gaza that are difficult to access by land. The total amount of aid delivered since the launch of “Birds of Goodness” has reached 1,857 tonnes of food and relief supplies.

This brings the total amount of aid sent by the UAE to northern Gaza to over 2,227 tonnes, including both land shipments through the Kerem Shalom crossing and airdrops via “Birds of Goodness.” The “Birds of Goodness” campaign is part of Operation “Chivalrous Knight 3” to support the Palestinian people in Gaza.

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Economic

China: Consumer prices up 2nd month, factory deflation persists

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China’s consumer prices showed a modest increase in March, but factory deflation persists, indicating a continuation of weak demand.

In March, China experienced a greater-than-expected cooling of consumer inflation, alongside persistent deflation in producer prices. This maintains pressure on policymakers to implement additional stimulus measures, given the ongoing weakness in demand. While deflationary pressures in the world’s second-largest economy seem to be gradually alleviating, concerns persist due to the prolonged property crisis, which continues to undermine both consumer and business confidence.

Consumer prices rose by a muted 0.1 per cent in March from a year earlier, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed on Thursday, versus a 0.7 per cent rise in February which was the first gain in six months and a 0.4 per cent rise in a Reuters poll. “Seasonal effects definitely played a role – food prices rose sharply during the Chinese New Year in February and subsequently came back down,” said Xu Tianchen, senior economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “More broadly, the over capacity issue is passing into prices in a way that will thwart the People’s Bank of China’s efforts to reflate the economy,” Xu added.

“Vehicle prices fell an annual 4.6 per cent, which could suggest manufacturers are introducing deeper price cuts in the distribution and sales process.” Factory-gate prices fell 2.8 per cent in March from a year earlier, with the producer price index (PPI) widening a 2.7 per cent slide from the previous month and extending a year-and-a-half long stretch of declines. On a month-on-month basis, the PPI fell 0.1 per cent. “Although consumer prices are no longer falling, rapid investment in manufacturing capacity is still weighing on factory-gate prices,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, head of China economics at Capital Economics.

In recent months China has rolled out a raft of incentives to spur household spending including easier car loan rules, but consumers remain cautious about big-ticket purchases amid worries about the sputtering economy and the weak job market. Earlier this month, China’s central bank vowed to strengthen efforts to expand domestic demand and boost confidence. Core inflation, excluding volatile food and energy prices, in March was at 0.6 per cent from a year earlier, slower than 1.2 per cent in February.

The CPI fell 1.0 per cent month-on-month, cooling from a 1 per cent gain in February and worse than a 0.5 per cent drop forecast by economists. “Interestingly, CPI inflation surprised on the upside in the U.S. and downside in China,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. “This indicates the monetary policy stances in these two countries may continue to diverge as well, hence the gap of interest rates in these two countries will likely persist,” he added.

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Business

India to grow 7 % in FY24, 7.2 % in FY25, driven by robust investment, services exports

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The 2024-25 growth estimate is, however, lower than 7.6 per cent projected for the 2022-23 fiscal. The ADB’s growth forecast for FY25 is in line with projections made by the RBI.

After a slew of upgrades in growth projection , the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday raised India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for fiscal year (FY) 2024 from 6.7 per cent to 7 per cent and 7.2 per cent in FY2025, attributing the robust growth to public and private sector investment demand, gradual improvement in consumer demand and strong services sector.

The 2024-25 growth estimate is, however, lower than 7.6 per cent projected for the 2022-23 fiscal. The ADB’s growth forecast for FY25 is in line with projections made by the RBI. Strong investment drove GDP growth in the 2022-23 fiscal as consumption was muted, the ADB said and expects India to affirm its position as a major growth engine within Asia, driven by strong investment, recovering consumption, and gains in electronics and services exports.

While in the rest of developing Asia, faster growth will be driven by domestic demand and some improvement in semiconductor and services exports, including tourism. Stronger growth in South Asia and Southeast Asia will offset lower growth in other subregions. “Notwithstanding global headwinds, India remains the fastest growing major economy on the strength of its strong domestic demand and supportive policies,” said ADB Country Director for India Mio Oka. “The Government of India’s efforts to boost infrastructure development while undertaking fiscal consolidation and provide an enabling business environment will help in increased manufacturing competitiveness to augment exports and drive future growth,” said Oka.

With inflation moderating to 4.6 per cent in FY2024 and easing further to 4.5 per cent in FY2025, the ADB suggests monetary policy may become less restrictive, which will facilitate rapid offtake of bank credit. Demand for financial, real estate and professional services will grow while manufacturing will benefit from muted input cost pressures that will boost industry sentiment. Expectations of a normal monsoon will help boost growth of the agriculture sector. The report lauds the government’s focus on fiscal consolidation, with a targeted deficit of 5.1 per cent of GDP for FY2024 and 4.5 per cent for FY2025, which will enable the government to reduce its gross marketing borrowing by 0.9 per cent of GDP in FY2024 and create further room for private sector credit.

India’s current account deficit will widen moderately to 1.7 per cent of GDP on rising imports for meeting domestic demand. Foreign direct investment will be affected in the near term due to tight global financial conditions but will pick up in FY2025 with higher industry and infrastructure investment. Goods exports will also be affected by lower growth in advanced economies but pick up in FY2025 as global growth improves.

On the regional front, growth in developing Asia will remain healthy at 4.9 per cent in 2024 and 2025, despite a slowdown in China. In fact, while growth in the PRC will decline from 5.2 per cent in 2023 to 4.8 per cent this year and 4.5 per cent next year, it will accelerate in the rest of developing Asia—from 4.8 per cent in 2023 to 5.0 per cent this year and 5.3 per cent in 2025. The slowdown in the PRC will be driven by the weak property market and amplified by fading domestic consumption growth after last year’s reopening.

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Economic

African economies to grow 3.4 per cent in 2024, says World Bank

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The report said increased private consumption and declining inflation were supporting an economic rebound in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The latest Africa’s Pulse report by the World Bank indicates an economic rebound in Sub-Saharan Africa, driven by increased private consumption and decreasing inflation. However, the recovery remains fragile due to uncertain global economic conditions, mounting debt service obligations, frequent natural disasters, and escalating conflict and violence.

The report emphasizes the necessity for transformative policies to address entrenched inequality, ensuring sustained long-term growth and effective poverty reduction. While the region’s growth is expected to rebound from 2.6% in 2023 to 3.4% in 2024 and 3.8% in 2025, the recovery remains precarious. Despite a decline in inflation across most economies to 5.1% in 2024 from a median of 7.1%, it remains elevated compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Additionally, while growth of public debt is slowing, more than half of African governments grapple with external liquidity problems and face unsustainable debt burdens. Overall, the report underscores that despite the projected boost in growth, the pace of economic expansion in the region remained below the growth rate of the previous decade (2000-2014) and is insufficient to have a significant effect on poverty reduction. Moreover, due to multiple factors including structural inequality, economic growth reduces poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa less than in other regions.

“Per capita GDP growth of 1 percent is associated with a reduction in the extreme poverty rate of only about 1 percent in the region, compared to 2.5 percent on average in the rest of the world,” said Andrew Dabalen, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa. “In a context of constrained government budgets, faster poverty reduction will not be achieved through fiscal policy alone. It needs to be supported by policies that expand the productive capacity of the private sector to create more and better jobs for all segments of society.”

The World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse report called for several policy actions to foster stronger and more equitable growth. These include restoring macroeconomic stability, promoting inter-generational mobility, supporting market access, and ensuring that fiscal policies do not overburden the poor.

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Economic

Pakistan to adopt National Fiscal Policy amid bailout talks with IMF, says World Bank

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Amid the staggering economic crisis in Pakistan, the World Bank has asked Islamabad to adopt a national fiscal policy by aligning federal and provincial spending with constitutional mandates, merging various federal and provincial revenue agencies into a single general sales tax (GST) collection agency, and effectively taxing agriculture, capital gains, and real estate in the next fiscal year’s budget, Dawn reported on Monday. “Implement the new Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Acts (FDRLA) at the federal and provincial levels, including through the development and implementation of a national medium-term fiscal framework through the FY25 budget process,” the World Bank asked the government in its latest policy advice.

This is now expected to be made part of the next International Monetary Fund program that Pakistan Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb will be discussing with the lender next week in Washington on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF spring meetings, Dawn reported. The bank demanded tangible progress on GST harmonisation across the federation and its federating units, “including through the rollout of the GST portal,” and a move towards “rate harmonisation to facilitate tax compliance and the provision of input tax credits.”. On top of this, the World Bank also suggested “consolidation of all GST collection responsibilities with a single agency, which could then distribute revenues in accordance with constitutional provisions” to reduce administrative complexity.

At present, GST is collected by the Federal Board of Revenue, mostly on goods and some services, while similar revenue boards are operating in provinces to collect GST on some services. However, given the overlapping nature of certain services, the stakeholders have been facing GST collection adjustments among the provinces. More importantly, the World Bank wants decisive actions to mobilize revenues from underutilized sources, particularly those relating to the unfinished agenda of the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) award of 2010: urban immovable property tax, agricultural income tax, and capital gain taxes. While conceding greater federal pool resources to the provinces, it was agreed to effectively bring these areas into the tax net to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio to 15 percent in five years, but the deal (NFC) was drafted in a weak manner.

Dawn reported that the NFC had “recommended that the federal and provincial governments streamline their tax collection systems to reduce leakages and increase their revenue through efforts to improve taxes and achieve a tax-to-GDP ratio of 15 percent by the terminal year 2014–15. Provinces would initiate steps to effectively tax the agriculture and real estate sectors.” However, this has remained a pipe dream over the following 15 years. As for urban immovable property tax, the World Bank has demanded the application of harmonised valuation tables (currently based on rental value) to be updated annually based on observed variables such as inflation, insurance valuation, and sales records, and also to equalize rates between owner-occupiers and rentals.

In this regard, the bank also wants authorities to harmonize and reduce exemptions such as area-based exemptions, owner-occupier exemptions, and non-resident exemptions and to unify federal deemed income tax and urban immovable property tax. For agricultural income tax, the World Bank has asked the government to make the definition of land area consistent, reconsider exemptions based on the size of land holdings, and set common minimum rates based on crop acreage or production estimates. At the same time, the government should also incorporate irrigation and/or construct buildings to differentiate per-hectare minimum rates. Dawn reported that regarding the capital gains tax, the bank has advised the government to unify the treatment of builders, property developers, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and others, simplify the types of taxes related to capital gains and transfers (capital gains tax (CGT), capital value tax (CVT), stamp duty, withholding tax, etc.), remove years-held based differential rates, and simplify the rate structure.

Overall, the World Bank has suggested broader revenue reforms to expand the tax base, improve progressivity, and ease compliance. To achieve this, it wants to close existing corporate and sales tax exemptions, including tax exemptions for real estate, the energy sector, COVID response, and some basic household goods, and instead compensate poor households for negative impacts through enhanced social protection.

To improve tax compliance, the bank has called for addressing constraints delaying the rollout of the track-and-trace system to all sectors and simplifying the tax structure by reforming the “personal income tax (PIT) system to reduce complexity by aligning schemes for salaried and non-salaried workers” and reforming PIT schedules to increase equity by eliminating privileged treatment of specific income sources and by harmonizing rate structures across taxable income sources.

The Planning Commission has already prepared a national planning framework for the upcoming National Economic Council, with the overall theme of ending provincial projects from the federal budget and improving resource deployment through federal and provincial “synergy” in the light of the “true spirit of the constitutional scheme,” including the 7th National Finance Commission Award and 18th constitutional amendment, Dawn reported.

An official said the planning framework would “offer an operational strategy for federal and provincial governments in the context of prevailing constitutional responsibilities and roles for the shared and common objective of development and growth.”. He said the concept of balanced development and regional equity was not only the responsibility of the federal government but equally that of the provinces through their respective development programs, and it was also the essence of the 7th NFC and 18th Amendment.

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