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ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Thursday reaffirmed its priority towards the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) reforms to address the economic crisis.

During a press conference, Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar reaffirmed the government’s commitment to prioritise reforms within the FBR as a key strategy to tackle the ongoing economic crisis. Tarar emphasized that this initiative aligns with the vision of the prime minister, who is actively leading efforts to revamp government departments, in line with recommendations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Highlighting the significance of these reforms, Tarar stressed the need to streamline FBR operations to improve governance and effectiveness. He outlined the government’s focus on reducing unnecessary expenditures and combating power and tax theft as integral components of the reform agenda.

FBR restructuring plan: Major impediment to implementation seems to be bureaucracy itself

Tarar’s remarks underscored the government’s proactive stance in addressing economic challenges and its determination to implement structural changes aimed at fostering economic stability and growth.

Tarar underscored the personal involvement of the prime minister in spearheading the reform efforts, aimed at enhancing governance within government departments, a directive echoed by the IMF. He stressed the urgency of curbing unnecessary expenditures and combating power and tax theft as integral aspects of the reform agenda.

Tarar also addressed recent personnel changes within the FBR, clarifying that such transfers are made based on the exigencies of officers’ roles and fall within the government’s jurisdiction. He urged for understanding, assuring that these changes are not targeted at any specific individual.

Highlighting the substantial backlog of tax cases, totalling over Rs2,700 billion, pending in courts, Tarar emphasized the critical need for their swift resolution. He applauded the parliament’s efforts in enacting legislation on tax tribunals, aimed at expediting and streamlining the adjudication process. Under the new law, cases below Rs20 million will be handled by the commissioner, while those exceeding this threshold will be referred to the tribunal.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar hailed the highly successful second visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia within a month as “historic and a major development”. The visit, aimed at participating in the World Economic Forum, is expected to yield extensive positive results in the coming months.

Accompanied by Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar, Minister Attaullah emphasized the comprehensive planning by Saudi Arabia for investment in Pakistan, labelling it a turning point in bilateral relations. He highlighted the significance of multiple meetings held between Pakistani and Saudi ministers during the prime minister’s visit, totalling to 12 high-level meetings in just two days.

Attaullah underscored the commitment expressed by Saudi ministers to collaborate with Pakistan in various sectors, including finance, industries, investment, energy, and climate change, on the special directives of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Referring to the importance of the prime minister’s engagements with the Saudi Crown Prince, Attaullah noted that the meetings held within a short span of one month held historic significance for both nations. He mentioned the visit of the Saudi finance minister to Pakistan immediately after Eidul Fitr, during which extensive consultations on economic cooperation and investment took place.

Attaullah highlighted the formulation of a comprehensive cooperation program for Pakistan by Saudi ministers, directed by the Saudi Crown Prince, as a robust initiative in Pakistan-Saudi relations. He announced the upcoming visit of a delegation of Saudi businessmen to Pakistan as a result of the successful foreign policy pursued by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Addressing concerns regarding online harassment and fake news, Attaullah stressed the need to address such campaigns effectively, proposing suggestions to the government for countering them. He advocated for the establishment of a specific authority to tackle online harassment, emphasizing the importance of protecting digital rights.

Attaullah mentioned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s directives to increase the wheat procurement target to support farmers and bolster the rural economy. He called for heightened awareness among the public regarding their digital rights and the prevention of trends targeting specific individuals on social media.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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