New sections in Finance bill FY17 will enable tax authorities to sign bilateral treaty with OCED

ISLAMABAD, June 9 (APP): Finance Minister Ishaq Dar informed the Senate on Thursday Pakistan has applied for membership of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which would help access the tax evaders in its member countries.

He said a meeting with the Swiss authorities is expected soon in Bern during which the matter of Pakistanis who have stashed money in their banks, would come up for discussion.

He said the membership of multilateral forum OECD will help Pakistan get information about the money illegally stashed in Swiss banks.

The OECD is an international organization to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world, he added.

Representatives of the 34 OECD member countries meet in specialised committees to advance ideas and review progress in specific policy areas, such as tax, economics, trade, science, employment, education or financial markets.

Pakistan applied for the OECD membership in 2014 and it had successfully met two reviews and assessments so far.

Ishaq dar said the government has proposed an amendment in the income tax law to overcome shortcoming, due to which foreign companies and their local associates have been avoiding billions of rupees in income taxes by inflating the cost of goods sold by the legal entities of an enterprise.

The government has also proposed two other amendments in the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 through Finance Bill 2016 to address concerns of the OECD before it gives Pakistan membership, he added.

Leader of Opposition in the Senate debate Aitzaz Hassan, while taking part the debate, said most of the budget targets were missed with highlighting several indirect taxes which would put extra burden on masses.

He said budget could not extend relief to common man as minimum wages for labour had been increased by only Rs 1000 from Rs 13000 to Rs 14000, which was just a peanut raise.

He said population census played important role in formulating economic policies but the government could not conduct the exercise.

Similarly, he added agriculture sector could get boost in wake of weak measures for the sector and such situation also led to decrease in cotton production.

He said the government announced package for small farmers but the scheme had not yet extended relief to farmers who had long been waiting for incentives.

He said the Finance Minister should also highlight to put an end to practices of secreting money at foreign banks, earned through illegal means, adding if such efforts were not made then imitiative to end tax evasion would prove to be futile exercise.

He said debt was piling up and most funds of the budget would go for retiring those debts.

He said the budget is anti-poor as it envisages increase in indirect taxes which adversely affect the disadvantaged segments of the society.

He said budget proposals are ‘jugglery of words,’ as the government had claimed to have achieved 4.7 percent growth rate while the experts put the growth rate at 3.1 percent.

He said targets in agriculture, exports, investment and GDP were also missed and foreign remittances got increased not because of any government’s efforts but the Western countries’ anti-immigrant policies forced overseas Pakistanis to send their money back home.

Nisar Muhammad Khan of PML(N) said the federal government should take all the federating units into confidence before preparation of the federal budget.

He said the government should give special focus to those areas which were badly affected by menace of terrorism.