December 17, 2018

Data Story of the Day: Dawn Report on Islamabad Property Audit

In a front page lead story, Dawn reported that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has discovered the federal capital has seen investments in real estate worth over Rs.100 billion over the past three years.

The story suggests FBR now wants to tax the income of the 6,348 investors who bought property in Islamabad during this period.

But turns out almost one-half of these investors are not part of the tax roll. Surprise, surprise! Pakistan has a narrow tax net, which might be shrinking further.

Here’s a look at the important data mentioned in the news report:

• A total of 3,530 residential and 2,818 commercial properties were bought in Islamabad between 2014 and 2017 by 6,348 people

• The Deputy Commissioner-rate valuation of these properties puts the total price tag at Rs. 106 billion but the actual figure might be higher.

• More than half of the investors – 4,552 out of the over 6,000 – are residents of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad

What worked?

The reporter is mindful of the “why” questions and provides explanations of why more people from Peshawar might be interested in Islamabad real estate compared to people from Lahore.

What didn’t work?

That last paragraph is an ugly blob of text and numbers. There was probably no real need for telling the readers how many people from Abbottabad, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Sargodha bought how many commercial and residential properties. Perhaps a one-sentence summary could have sufficed. Again, perhaps the lack of a visualisation option forced the reporter to describe the data as fully as possible.

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