Govt wants autonomous, people-friendly FBR: Tarin

Hamza Habib Our Correspondent

17th Sep, 2021. 07:48 pm
CPEC ushers in new era of economic prosperity Tarin

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: The government is fully committed to grant the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) operational and financial autonomy to rule out the possibility of political interference and; thus, make it an efficient, merit based, service-oriented and public-friendly organisation.

Addressing the senior officials at the FBR headquarters, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin appreciated the last year’s commendable performance of the apex tax authority regarding revenue collection target, despite challenges being posed by the Covid-19.

The FBR is on track for achievement of this year’s target of Rs5.829 trillion, as it had already surpassed the target with a margin of Rs160 billion in the first two months, he said.

“Broadening the tax base is one of the top priorities of my team for the current year and we have constituted committees, composed of private sector experts, Nadra and FBR officers who are working tirelessly.”

Elaborating on the function of these committees, Tarin said that these committees are also working on the assessment of resource constraints of the FBR, especially the finances and the logistics, and they would be recommending the ways and means to overcome these constraints.

“The other flagship initiative is the point of sales integration, which aims at recording the real-time transactions at retail level and has a huge potential to increase the revenue of the state,” he said.

The finance minister also briefed on the progress of the track and trace project, which would be rolled out from November, as the stay granted by one of the honourable high courts had been vacated and he had also approved funds worth Rs432 million for the project.

Highlighting the importance of digitalisation of the revenue board, Tarin said that the tax system automation would bring transparency and reduce the discretionary powers, which had always been a long-term demand of the business community.

He expressed his commitment to provide required funds for the digitalisation, adding that the technical supplementary grant of Rs3.8 billion had already been approved in the current week to upgrade the IT systems and their security.

Commenting about Pakistan Single Window (PSW), he said under this project, more than 70 different departments would converge at one platform for the facilitation of the business community, which would promote trade in the country.

The finance minister urged the FBR to follow the ambitious target of taking the Tax-to-GDP ratio to 20 per cent in the next six to eight years. He also appreciated the FBR for making significant headway towards harmonisation of sales tax between the federation and the federating units under the umbrella of the National Tax Council.

He also appreciated the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) and called it a landmark project, which would connect the entire region from Central Asia to South Asia after its completion.

Tarin also said that anti-smuggling and counter-smuggling initiatives are one of the top most priority areas and the prime minister is very concerned about it.

He appreciated the FBR’s efforts to curb smuggling, despite resource constraints. He also paid tribute to the sacrifices by the Customs officials who laid down their lives in the line of duty.

He expressed the hope that the revenue board team would spare no effort to not only achieve the assigned revenue target of Rs5.8 trillion but also exceed the same by wide margins.

Earlier, FBR chairman Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed welcomed the finance minister and said that the interactive session with him would provide an opportunity to the senior leadership of the tax authority to understand his vision and; thus, would help take his vision forward

The FBR chairman elaborated the government’s priority was to create an enabling environment for the trade and businesses, especially for the Small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) through simplifications of laws and procedures, and to stimulate economic activity.

“[The] FBR being cognizant of this vision, has taken a number of concrete measures to translate it into reality,” he added.

Dr Ahmed acknowledged the result-oriented vision of the finance minister and said that under his dynamic leadership, the much-needed economic stability has been achieved, which was rather elusive before.

“Now the country is on the path to economic growth,” he added. He expressed the hope that the growth trajectory would bring about prosperity, resulting in employment and economic empowerment of the people.

The FBR chairman assured that the tax authority was fully geared towards achievement of target for this year, as well.

“We are on track and would not leave any stone unturned for surpassing the historic milestone of Rs5.8 trillion,” he added.

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