PM says increased tax collection crucial for economic stability

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 13 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday stressed that revenue and tax collection were key drivers for the economic stability, and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had a significant role in that regard.

Addressing a gathering of taxmen of FBR, he said the countrymen were generous in charity giving, but shirk of paying taxes, and urged the FBR officials to devise reforms which could restore people’s confidence in the tax machinery, besides enhancing their performance coupled with easy tax payment system.

The prime minister also assured the FBR officials that they would be fully taken on board on tax reforms as their role had been crucial in the country’s economic stability.

He said Pakistan had been at the historical crossroads and his government was committed for reforms in the revenue and tax systems, which had already been started.

The government through its holistic approach had been introducing all bracing reforms, with exports witnessing a surge and the stock exchange gaining momentum, he added.

The prime minister also expressed his satisfaction over the country’s enhanced performance in the ease of doing business as its business outlook had been enhanced by 7 per cent.

He asked the FBR authorities to give their input and feedback on the tax collection.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi, and senior officials were present during the interaction.

The prime minister said without efficient functioning of the FBR, the country could not achieve financial stability.

He said the country could not run on the old pattern as the present government had inherited the biggest financial deficit and current account deficit. Half of the tax collection, in the first year, was spent on debt servicing, he added.

He said collection of Rs 8 trillion tax was not difficult, unless all the stakeholders considered it as their national responsibility and sacred duty to work for the achievement of that task. The tax collection during the fiscal year was targeted at Rs 5.5 trillion.

The prime minister observed that if steps for the collection of enhanced tax were not taken, it could give rise to complications in the future as those were also vital for the human resource development.

Pakistan had huge potential in terms of its young population and if they were provided with opportunities, the country could move forward on the path of progress and prosperity, he added.

He said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had entered into another phase, which would spur industrialization and business opportunities across the country.

The prime minister also cited the Scandinavian countries including Sweden and Norway where the people had been paying taxes as they knew that the same were spent judiciously on their welfare.

A woman in Sweden could not contest for the prime minister’s office as she had spent the public money, he added.

He regretted that in Pakistan, the past rulers took it as their prerogative to spend the public tax money on their personal requirements.

He said his government after coming into power started an austerity drive, and cut down Rs 350 million expenditures of the Prime Minister House, besides the federal government’s expenditures were slashed by Rs 45 billion.There was also a ban on traveling of ministers abroad, he added.

The prime minister said the government entities, including the governor houses, were being converted into the public places, thus bringing down their expenditures and cited the Governor House in Murree where a sum of Rs 830 million alone was spent in the past over its renovation.

He expressed the resolve that his government would spend the public money on the welfare and uplift of the public.

He said his recent Washington visit only cost $65,000 as compared to previous visits by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who spent $0.8 million and $0.7 million respectively.

The prime minister said during the United Nations visits, Asif Ali Zardari spent $1.2 million, Nawaz Sharif $1.1 million and Khaqan Abbasi $800,000 whereas his visit cost only $160,000.

A huge amount of Rs 50 billion was spent on advertisements by the previous rulers from the public tax money, he added.

The prime minister said the nationalization policy of ’70s had also impacted the growth rate of the country in which wealth creation was considered as an offence.

He said the government was determined to provide a business-friendly climate in the country through ease of doing business.

He also credited the overseas Pakistanis, who had been the biggest asset of the country sending remittances regularly thus strengthening the national economy.

The prime minister also responded to various queries and suggestions by the FBR officials.