Dar for legal framework on foreign assets

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ISLAMABAD July 01 (APP): Minister for Finance, Revenue, Statistics and Economic Affairs Division on Friday underlined the need for a Legal Mandatory Framework for declaration of non-tax paid offshore assets abroad and penalties on concealment.

“We are working on this issue. It should be mandatory for every Pakistani to declare his assets in any country abroad and anybody concealing this information must be penalized,” he said in a private news channel programme.

“I have approached the OECD and also requested the federal cabinet to allow negotiations with the Swiss authorities on this issue. Illegal property holders will be investigated,” he added.

He said at local level the trend of black money and concealed properties has been discouraged that helped us to take our revenue collection to Rs 3104 billion this year against Rs 1946 billion tax collection of 2013.

“Today our foreign exchange reserves stand at US$ 23 billion with US$ 18 billion with the State Bank and around US$ five billion with private banks and I congratulate the nation on this achievement,” Dar said.

Answering a question, he rejected the notion of advance tax collection and said, “it was routine tax collection although FBR contacted departments for early payment of taxes. But, it does not mean they have collected tax for the upcoming two or three years.”

He said as the government has taken measures to facilitate agriculture sector and boost exports, the exporters had demanded early payment of export refunds which we shall be clearing by August 31. “Therefore, any opinion to withhold refunds to show better tax collection was not true. Instead of holding refunds, we are going to clear it in bulk for the first time to boost exports.”

He said if the government remains successful in enhancing exports by US$ 10 billion through incentives, then we shall have no need to contact donors of international financial institutions.

When asked about new valuation system for property business, he said earlier the properties were being evaluated at 10 to 20 times low price that was affecting national kitty in billions of rupees every year in terms of tax collection. “Now, DC valuation is being discontinued and is given to private sector to be done by the State Bank notified valuators.”

This amendment in Money Bill has forced real estate stakeholders to contact us and propose to do business on realistic valuation instead of DC valuation, he said. “This was duty of the provinces and after their failure the federal government had to make this amendment.”

To a question about offshore companies, he said a declared offshore company is not considered as an illegal entity. Many institutions in the country have offshore companies. The problem arises when such companies are concealed. But, those companies and their source of investment is legal and declared, then there is no illegality about such companies.

“For, the purpose of making the declaration of such companies as mandatory, we are also bringing in a legal package about their declaration in coming weeks,” he said. “There are cross border investments in the world but these investments should be declared and are not done through non-tax paid money.”

Dar said Pakistan is among the four countries in the world where four tax directories of parliamentarians have been published so that any concealed offshore assets could be detected.

The Finance Minister strongly rejected the allegation of illegal investment of his sons and said, his each and every asset was declared and it was his right to gift anything to his children. “I have also presented myself for forensic audit of my assets. We are clear in our dealing that is why my son has filed a Rs five billion damages case against Imran Khan.”

The business which my sons are running since last 12 years, is their capital and nobody can stop anyone from doing business.

“What assets I own, I have declared in my statements with the Election Commission.” To a question about major challenges to the government on return of the Prime Minister, Dar said changing situation in neighboring countries and security issues will be our top agenda. “During a meeting with military leadership on June 07, it was decided to prepare a roadmap for the Prime Minister to deal with security situation.”

Our other challenges would be taking forward the agenda of power generation, consolidating economic gains, generate employment opportunities and boosting exports, he added.