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KARACHI: Speaking at Pakistan’s International Customs Day event, caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar emphasized the need for continued reforms and revenue enhancement efforts by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Akhtar said that suggestions from the FBR were being considered, and the FBR chairman was also actively involved in reform initiatives.

She hoped “this year the FBR will achieve the target of more than Rs 9.4 trillion,” stating that “revenue mobilization is critical.” The minister highlighted the goals of expanding Pakistan’s tax-to-GDP ratio from 8-9% to 16-18% within 3-5 years to enable sustainable growth. She called for simplifying Customs processes to aid anti-smuggling and revenue collection.

Finalisation of revised summary to cabinet: Deliberations continue on FBR restructuring

She said that under reforms, the number of new Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) and duties would be reduced and emphasized the importance of Customs in the development of cross-border trade. Dr Akhtar defined the role of Pakistan Customs as crucial in the economy, functioning as a regulator.

She directed leveraging technology partnerships and platforms like the Pakistan Single Window Facility for a modern, competitive Customs ecosystem. Spotlighting opportunities at the Torkham and Chaman borders, the minister envisioned Customs driving the expansion of commercial avenues there.

The minister said that the integration of the transit trade system, which was developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with the Customs stations at Torkham and Chaman borders would considerably increase trade volume and create excellent income opportunities at these border points.

“You should be proud not for revenue collection but for integrity, transparency, and implementation of the high standards of governance to help people of Pakistan, facing food insecurity and other economic challenges,” she advised.

FBR Customs Operations Member Dr Fareed Iqbal Qureshi echoed need for Customs to embrace partnerships and technology to address modern trade threats like money laundering, fiscal fraud, etc.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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