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Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar Friday said no proposal of tax amnesty scheme is under consideration in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) or the Finance Division; however, a five-year tax and tariff plan will be unveiled soon to provide consistency in policy to the investors.
"At present neither has the government any intention to offer any amnesty scheme nor has FBR received any such instruction from the Ministry of Finance," said the minister in response to a question at a roundtable seminar on "Economic Reforms: Way Forward," organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Azhar also acknowledged that FBR capacity eroded over the years due to political interference and people are not willing to become filers because of fear of harassment at the hand of tax officials after becoming filers. The government, he said, has decided to make an independent board of Pakistan Revenue Automaton Limited (PRAL) for making its full utilisation. The government will also introduce five years tax and tariff plan to ensure consistency in policy to the investors.
He further stated that the government is bringing a mechanism in consultation with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to deal with Rs 150 billion mobile phone smuggling. "We will try to limit the budget deficit to 5.6 percent in the current fiscal year," he said, emphasising that provinces need to fulfill their commitment made under the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award for help in increasing the country's tax-to-GDP ratio.
"We are also taking a proposal to the Parliament for approval in the Supplementary Finance Amendment Bill 2019 with regard to simplification of tax return to broaden the tax base and a pilot project for small traders and shopkeepers would be launched in the federal capital and it will subsequently be implemented across the country.
The minister said that economic reform package is neutral in terms of revenue (no loss, no gain) but has been designed to revive and facilitate the investments and growth.
The minister said that loose fiscal and monetary policy with huge deficit during the last ten years in general and in the last fiscal year of Pakistan Muslim League (N) administration, in particular, with Rs 2,300 billion or 6.6 percent deficit against the target of 4.9 percent led to consumption based growth. The purpose of economic reform investment and industrialisation package is to move towards supply side of the economy through enhancement in domestic production and exports. Additionally, he said that his government has also proposed a simplified and friendly tax regime to ensure ease of doing businesses.
Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Haroon Sharif said that all foreign state visits of Prime Minister were fundamentally meant to reach out investors and investments to get economy out of the crisis. He said, "At BOI our objectives are four folds - increasing productivity, technology transfer, facilitating investments that support the export sector and job creation, and concrete proposals from China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Korea in the sectors of oil, renewable energy, hospitality and tourism have been received.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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