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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been asked to become fully digitized by July 2021 that would help the government increase tax collection and allocate more resources to social sector and increase spending on human capital. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of e-bidding, e-billing and GIS mapping system of the National Highways Authority (NHA), the prime minister described corruption as primary hindrance in the development of the country.

He stated that “it is regrettable that as a society we have accepted commission, bribe and corruption”.

The prime minister added that he wanted total digitalization in the FBR by July 2021, and this has been conveyed to them.

He said that once done, this would be a major change in the county with rapid increase in tax collection that would enable the government to increase spending on the social sector.

The prime minister said that other ministries have also been directed to adopt automation by this summer.

The prime minister said that the country is moving towards digitization and transparency through e-bidding, e-billing and GIS mapping from the NHA, and after the NHA, the digitization would be done in the FBR, and then in the other departments and ministries.

He said most of the “commission” is being generated or realized through construction of roads being carried out by NHA. He said that there has been a lot of corruption in the award of contract through manual bidding and with the introduction of e-bidding system there would be transparency in award of contracts and the menace of “commission” and bribe would be eliminated, while less human interaction in the billing system after e-billing would reduce the incidence of bribery.

The prime minister said digitization is important to deal with the challenges of commission and corruption “but the status quo does not want automation; it wants to continue with the system of corruption for their personal gain”.

He said no country could progress with a society that accepts the system of bribes, commissions and corruption.

He said that people in Malaysia and Indonesia accepted Islam after witnessing the character of Muslim traders. The prime minister also referred to the Broadsheet “revelations,” and stated that the person who gave interview narrates how money was being stolen from Pakistan and sent abroad.

He said the Broadsheet also revealed that one Pakistani transferred over US$100,000 from Saudi Arabia to London. Minister for Communication Murad Saeed said that e-procurement, e-billing and GIS mapping system are being launched in the NHA to do away with the menace of “commission” and corruption.

The minister said that GIS mapping was being initiated to monitor around 12,000 roads and all the commercial activities taking place in the left and right of the highways and roads as well as to have information about the assets.

“We have so far recovered Rs20 billion in addition to Rs4 billion from those who had illegally encroached/occupied the NHA land,” he said, and added that 6,147 kilometers road projects will be started in the next four months.

The minister added that these roads are being initiated through public-private partnership.

Secretary Ministry of Communication said that the NHA awards around Rs200 billion contracts annually and with the new e-bidding system would make the award of contracts more transparent.

He added that the NHA is undertaking 32 projects and would be making Rs155 billion payments, and e-billing system would eliminate human interaction and bring about transparency in the payment system.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021