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The number of tax filers in the country increased by a whooping over 60 percent in a period of one year, the Senate was told on Friday.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar told the house during question hour that the number of tax filers has increased from 1.6 million filers to 2.6 million filers in one year due to the steps taken by the current government.

The federal minister informed that the country’s tax collection grew by 27pc, prior to COVID-19 pandemic, after which the tax collection declined by 30pc. Azhar however, was optimistic that the situation will improve as the business activities return to normalcy.

The Minister said that databases are being used to improve tax collection, and informed that the government intends to phase out import-based duties and focus on domestic taxation.

Azhar said that the losses of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) surpassed the country’s annual defense budget. Talking about the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), Azhar said that that the current debt of PSM stands at Rs230 billion.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said the government announced a stimulus package of Rs1200 billion to support businesses and masses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking about inflation, he said that the rate of inflation has dropped from 12pc to 8pc due to government initiatives.