ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has launched a major reform initiative by enhancing its outreach through Mobile Facilitation Stations (MFS) in areas where outreach is low due to difficulty of access and resource shortage.
According to the details of the World Bank-funded project issued by the FBR on Monday, each of these stations was to be housed in a vehicle retrofitted with IT equipment (with all requisite FBR systems installed on it), internet connection, printer/ scanner, walkie-talkie, biometric device, bank card machines and GPS system.
The mobile stations intend to perform various facilitation functions under the law at taxpayers’ doorstep for instance registration, return filing, broadening of tax base, POS invoice verification, correction of taxpayers’ data, CPR correction and Track & Trace related support, just to name a few.
These 155 Mobile Facilitation Stations were proposed for different terrains/ areas. For urban areas low engine capacity stations were to be made operational and for rural & hilly areas higher engine capacity stations were to be deployed.
Moreover, the MFS initiative was to be implemented in phases with the initial pilot of 25 stations made operational in phase-1 after World Bank’s approval.
At present only FBR is creating a provision in revised PC-1. This was to be followed by an in-depth study into the successes of phase 1 and phase 2 was to be adjusted based on the learnings/ recommendations of this study.
This initiative was to be funded from the ongoing $80 million Component-II of the Pakistan Raises Revenue Program without any additional funding. This initiative has to be undertaken by 30th June, 2025 i.e., the end of the PRR project.
As per the World Bank’s Aide Memoire “overall, the progress on Component 1 is satisfactory and improving”. Important to note that Component 1 is worth $320 million and thus makes 80% of the total $400 million PRR Program.
The FBR was able to successfully complete a host of DLI based policy actions under Component 1 that led to additional disbursement of $41.568 million in February 2023, bringing total disbursement to $ 250million i.e. 62% of the total Program size and, to be correct on disbursement design, 78% of Component-1 allocation.
The World Bank team conducted a Mid-Term Review (MTR) in Oct-Nov 2022, in order to review the progress and to determine any restructuring requirement of the Program. The World Bank mission recommended project restructuring in two phases.
As a result of rapid restructuring phase, FBR was able to achieve DLI targets and, consequently, get the disbursement of USD 41.568 million under Component 1. For the second phase of restructuring, the MTR mission agreed with the need for the revision of Component-II’s PC-I due to price escalation of the IT equipment/ system upgrades that FBR requires and changes in organization’s needs to achieve Component 1 policy actions.
The FBR, being the primary revenue collection agency of the Federal Government, is fully cognizant of current economic challenges facing the country. It is, thus, fully committed to delivering on its statutory role and, in the process comply with all requisite rules and regulations of the Government, FBR added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023
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