ISLAMABAD: The caretaker Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr Shamshad Akhtar, has sought updated data of electricity users from power Distribution Companies (Discos) and K-Electric, enabling Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to identify potential new taxpayers and collect taxes from the retail sector, sources in Finance Ministry told Business Recorder.
The caretaker Finance Minister has sought this data at a time when the entire machinery of federal and provincial governments has already launched an “operation” against electricity thieves and chronic defaulters of Discos.
Federal Board of Revenue is already collecting Rs 740 billion tax from electricity consumers across the country through Discos and K-Electric, which have time and again requested the authorities to transfer this task to some other tax collection agency.
However, the government has not succeeded in taxing retail sector despite numerous efforts by the past administrations including the PDM government, which withdrew the levy for political considerations.
In a letter to caretaker Minister for Power and Petroleum, Muhammad Ali, caretaker Finance Minister invited his attention towards the overall fiscal predicaments of the government of Pakistan where revenue collection lags far behind the expenditures.
According to caretaker Finance Minister, domestic revenue mobilisation is one of the top most priorities of the federal government, adding that for effective resource mobilisation, the provision of real-time data of economic transactions is imperative.
Citing her recent discussions with the FBR, Finance Minister has claimed that she noticed that data related to users of Discos is outdated, which poses a significant problem for accurate tracking of users of current electricity consumption.
“The gravity of the situation becomes evident when we consider that the FBR possesses data of 3.6 million commercial and industrial electric meters, but only around 600,000 include the CNIC of the connection owner (not the current user),” she added.
Finance Minister further noted that fewer than 200,000 can be linked to tax declarations, and merely 13,000 are registered in the sales tax records.
“While data updates are necessary for domestic users as well, it is recommended that Power Division directs Discos and K-Electric to prompt current users of commercial and industrial connections to update their profiles specifically their name, CNIC, and Mobile Cell number via the designated web portals,” she added.
Accordingly, urgent action is needed by all Discos and K-Electric to update current electricity user data, enabling FBR to identify potential new taxpayers and collect taxes from the retail sector.
She requested Power Division to issue direction to all Discos and K-Electric to update records of their industrial and commercial consumers within two weeks positively and share the same with the FBR.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023