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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said there is a need to increase the tax collection because the country’s stability is at stake, owing to debt burden and its repayment, and the government does not have the money for investment in various sectors, including agriculture and the welfare of the people.

Addressing the launching ceremony of track and trace system, the prime minister said half of the total collection is used for the debt servicing of the money borrowed by the governments during the last 10 years.

He said that efforts were being made from 2008 to introduce this system and now in 2021 finally, it is being implemented.

The premier said that the role of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is very important and his dream to increase the tax collection to Rs8 trillion would be materialized in a few years. It was a step as he started thinking whether it would be done during his tenure or not and would have a far reaching impact on tax collection.

The premier said that the biggest problem of the country is that it does not have sufficient money to run the country and consequently had to borrow.

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He said that during the colonial system people did not consider tax evasion a bad thing because their money was being sent abroad.

He regretted that after independence, the ruling elite of the country did not allow the tax culture to grow in the country primarily because they preferred personal interest over national interest.

The premier also cited the example of Western countries where no one could imagine tax evasion and even rulers value taxpayers’ money.

He said that if the prime minister of England goes to the United States, he stays in the embassy there so that they do not have to spend money in the hotel. The prime minister said that rulers in the past had spent 10 times more on foreign trips.

He said that when people see their rulers misusing taxpayers’ money they do not pay taxes.

The prime minister said it is important to have a tax culture because the country’s stability depends on tax collection.

He said that those who have been responsible for burdening the country with the debt must be punished. The prime minister said that automation would prevent pilferage in the tax system.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Shaukat Tarin said that eight to nine percent tax-to-GDP was very little and an increase in tax-to-GDP ratio has not been possible without the use of technology.

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He said that there are complaints about harassment and use of technology would address this complaint. He said that track and trace system after tobacco, sugar, steel, cement would also be implemented in four more sectors. He said that a considerable number of companies have signed off on it.

The adviser said that there are three million return filers and only two million are paying taxes, while one million are filing their return with no taxable income.

He said that 15 million people’s data is available with the government and they would be asked to pay their due tax.

There is annual retail of Rs18 trillion but only Rs3 trillion is in the system and the government would install point of sale but there is no fear for the small traders because they would pay a fixed amount of tax. We are also introducing technology in custom and trade, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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