Print Print 2024-05-28

Farmers propose ‘fixed tax regime’ for agri sector

  • Demand government to ensure a dedicated track and trace system to bring the retailers, and businesses from the informal sectors with progressive taxes into the tax net
Published May 28, 2024
Photo: APP
Photo: APP

ISLAMABAD: The representatives of farmers proposed a “fixed tax regime” for the agriculture sector with documentation of the supply chain within the said sector in coming budget (2024-25).

The views were shared by farmers’ representatives during consultative discussion titled “Pre-Budget Seminar: Tax Reforms in Agriculture, Retail and Real Estate Sectors” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

During a pre-budget consultative session on Monday, Afaq Tiwana, CEO Farmers Association of Pakistan said the under discussion three sectors shared a common challenge of bringing the informal sector into the tax regime. He mentioned that the agriculture sector was paying taxes in three tiers that also included a tax return issued from the Patwari that levies a cumulative 15 percent tax.

Budget proposals: PBF underscores need for strengthening agri sector

He added that although it was an informal sector, its land records were digitized and was digitally documented economy. “The taxation should be made fair along with deregulation of the agriculture sector which is important as the government should reduce its involvement in our regime and bring us into tax net which should be a voluntary fixed tax regime,” he said.

The speakers also demanded the government to ensure a dedicated track and trace system to bring the retailers, and businesses from the informal sectors with progressive taxes into the tax net to generate revenue from untaxed sectors.

In his opening remarks, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said the consultation was convened to observe the overtaxed sectors in the budget whereas the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its discussions emphasizing to bring the real estate, IT, and agriculture sectors under the tax net.

Dr Suleri underlined that it was imperative to unearth the bottlenecks faced by the above three sectors in paying taxes as they were not only important for the upcoming budget but also in the run-up to IMF negotiations to provide a complete picture of current taxation status and proposed taxation plan’s implications. He added that these sectors were willing to pay taxes and it was necessary to consider their suggestions in the policy-making processes.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, SDPI added that it would show the economic trajectory in the next 2-3 years. “We have discussed three sectors: retail, agriculture, and real estate.

A large informal sector, challenges in implementing track-and-trace systems, the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) POS system, and the growing number of online retailers evading taxes contribute to the difficulty of collecting taxes in the retail sector.

While discussions regarding fixed taxes on retailers are ongoing, the question of fairness and progressivity within such a system remains unanswered,“ he added. Dr Vaqar mentioned that due to the informal nature of the agriculture sector, calculating and collecting the actual tax liability in the sector has proven challenging. He added that tech-based solutions were offering promising solutions for improved accuracy.

Ahsan Malik, Senior Real Estate Analyst said there was a trust deficit between the regulators and the sectors not paying taxes which needed to be bridged through a fair and progressive tax regime. He added that the FBR regulatory and enforcement measures were further depleting the trust of the masses as the tax-paying entities and non-taxpayers should be treated separately. Development and housing societies running and thriving businesses in the sector were evading taxes as the real estate partners were not willing to pay for the government’s inefficiency and incompetence, he added.

“Local industry needs to be promoted whereas imported luxury items should be taxed. We need to give space to small farmers and retailers. The new regime should make less burden on already taxed sectors,” Malik said.

Sumera Abbasi, Executive Director TiE said there was a need to bring clarity among the start-ups and small businesses with proper categories of retailers to ensure an inclusive tax regime. She said many retailers particularly poor women avoid paying taxes due to laborious paperwork that makes women entrepreneurs not interested in taxation.

She added that stringent tax regulatory regimes have failed to provide a conducive environment for start-up growth. The compliance cost needs to be reduced and made fair for local masses, whereas women in start-ups are not discussed during the budget which should discussed more clearly, Sumera Abbasi added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU May 28, 2024 10:39am
Again a joke n window dressing news for IMF. Farmers association does not represent farmers of even Punjab, and surprisingly no mention of high cost of inputs or recent wheat scandal, stop the lies.
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Az_Iz May 28, 2024 01:13pm
SDPI is an elitist organisation that pretends and portrays as pro poor. Scratch the surface and it's the most corrupt.
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NotSurprised May 28, 2024 01:28pm
Eyewash. Agri sector of Pakistan is tax free and consumes huge subsidies, because parliaments are dominated by these rent-seekers. Tax those at same rates of business income for those over 25 acres!
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Chawla.i May 28, 2024 10:32pm
Grt, as farmers accepted TAx Farmers whom own more than 25acres and which shd b minm 1lac per year and implement with true spirit and if found any malpractice than fine shd b 10times with one yr imprs
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