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PESHAWAR: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Wednesday, shared new evolving role and dimensions of the FBR as the government is now heavily relying on the tax machinery on other key economic areas including price fluctuation of commodities, exchange rate stabilization, trade facilitation, digitization, smuggling, and hoarding.

Addressing the Customs Day event with regard to “scaling up customs digital transformation by embracing a data culture and building a data Ecosystem” at Customs House, Peshawar, he stated that the government has enhanced the role of the FBR in economic areas besides revenue collection and broadening the tax base.

Traditionally, we have been seen as a border management agency and revenue generating department, but our role has been constantly evolving.

There is full support of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the finance minister for the FBR to ensure availability of resources for the tax machinery.

The FBR chairman stated that the government has started depending upon the customs administration and the FBR for other new purposes besides revenue generation.

For instance, price stabilization, if the price of any commodity fluctuates in the market, the FBR is the first government organization that has been asked to give reasons and suggestions.

Second, exchange rate stabilization is another important area. Whenever there is any fluctuation in the exchange rate, the FBR is the first department to be called by the government.

The FBR is the front line regulator to control the menace of smuggling. In case of shortage of any commodity, the FBR has to play the lead role in the markets. “There are a number of other things that the FBR do but rarely get realized and acknowledged,” he said.

During recent Covid, there was shortage of oxygen for the critical patients.

The FBR was asked to play the role in stabilizing the oxygen supply to the patients in the hospitals.

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He said that the FBR has decided to recruit 1,000 young soldiers to guard our borders and the process would be started in a couple of weeks. Moreover, the requirements of guns and vehicles would also be fulfilled.

He said that the role of the FBR is very important in all three trade corridors including Chaman and Torkham, which would be strengthened with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In addition, he said that Pakistan Customs is the protector of the economic borders of the country and that they have always been playing their role in trade promotion.

He stated that the FBR is equipped with the most critical databank of the country. The FBR has all the authentic and updated data of the economic activities of the citizens. No other government department has such a reliable data of the country.

On the conclusion of the event, the chairman FBR informed media that the government will reduce the tax rate by increasing the tax net.

To a query of Business Recorder on taxpayers’ profiling by the NADRA, FBR Chairman said that the FBR and NADRA collaboration is underway and results would be shared with the media for expanding the tax net.

Dr Ashfaq said that in the current FY 2021-22, “Our revenue target is Rs5.830 trillion, which is expected to increase till Rs6 trillion by June 2022. We have collected Rs300 billion more revenue than our target till December 31.” He further said that the FBR has achieved the six-month revenue target and we will also meet the yearly target of the current fiscal year.

The FBR will also achieve a revenue target of Rs8 trillion by 2023 as it would set the country’s economy in a new direction.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has his own vision for revenue collection and economic development in the country, in which achieving a revenue target of up to Rs8 trillion is one of the top priorities.

Replying to a question, Dr Ashfaq said that the FBR can close those retailers, if they cannot integrate their system with the Point of Sales system of the FBR.

The tax department is also pursuing the 60 outlets to integrate their system with the POS system, he added.

He also requested the masses to pay tax otherwise law will take its course. The chairman also said that the FBR has given Rs160 billion refunds, which are unprecedented, adding that he said that we will give more refunds to the business community in the coming months.

Replying to another question, he said that the FBR has received two to three complaints of fertilizer smuggling and the Customs is playing its best role in enforcing trade laws at Chaman and Torkham borders.

The chairman also said that transparent trade brought prosperity and development to the country.

He vowed that we would digitalize every FBR’s agency. He also said that the FBR currently has the largest data portal, which is in a dire need of digitization.

This data can be very important in the trade and economic development of the country. On this occasion, a floral wreath was put on the memorial of martyrs while the logo and motto of customs was also unveiled. Chief Collector (Customs) KP Ahmad Raza Khan also accompanied the FBR chief.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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