The government is fully committed to granting operational and financial autonomy to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in order to rule out any political interference and, thus, make it an efficient, merit-based, service-oriented, and public-friendly organization.
This was stated by Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue Shaukat Tarin while addressing senior officers of FBR at the FBR Headquarters in Islamabad on Friday.
He appreciated FBR for its commendable performance in Fiscal Year 2019-20 with regard to the collection of revenue, meeting its targets despite the challenges posed by Covid-19. He stated that FBR was on track for the achievement of this year’s target of Rs. 5829 billion, as it had already surpassed the target with a margin of Rs. 160 billion in the first two months.
“The Broadening of Tax Base is one of the top priorities of my team for the current year and we have constituted committees comprising private sector experts, NADRA [National Database & Registration Authority] and FBR officers who are working tirelessly.”
Elaborating on the function of these committees, he said these committees were also working on assessing the resource constraints facing FBR, especially the finances and the logistics. He added that the committees would recommend the ways and means to overcome these constraints. “The other flagship initiative is the Point of Sales Integration which aims at recoding the real-time transactions at a retail level and has huge potential to increase the revenue of the state,” he continued.
The Finance Minister also shed light on the progress made on the Track & Trace project which would be rolled out in November, as the stay order by an Honorable High Court had been vacated. He informed the FBR officers that he had also approved funds of Rs. 432 million for the project.
Highlighting the importance of digitization of FBR, the Finance Minister stated that automation of the tax system would bring transparency and reduce the discretionary powers which had always been a demand of the business community. He expressed his commitment to providing the funds required for digitization. He said that the Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs. 3.8 billion was already approved to upgrade the IT systems and their security.
Commenting about Pakistan Single Window (PSW) project, he said over 70 different departments would converge, under PSW, on one platform for the facilitation of the business community and this would promote trade in the country. He urged FBR to follow an ambitious target of taking the Tax-to-GDP ratio to 20% in the next 6-8 years. The Finance Minister also appreciated FBR for making significant headway toward harmonization of sales tax between the federation and the federating units under the umbrella of the National Tax Council (NTC).
Tarin appreciated the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) and called it a landmark project, which would connect the whole region from Central Asia to South Asia after its completion. He stated that taking anti-smuggling and counter-smuggling initiatives was one of the topmost priorities of the government, as the Prime Minister was very concerned about this.
The Minister appreciated FBR for its strenuous efforts to curb smuggling despite resource constraints. He paid tribute to the sacrifices offered by Customs officials who laid down their lives in the line of duty. He hoped that the FBR team will put every effort and explore all avenues to not only achieve the assigned revenue target of Rs. 5.8 trillion, but will also exceed the same by wide margins.
Earlier, Chairman FBR Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed welcomed the Federal Minister to FBR and said that the interactive session with the Minister would provide an opportunity for the senior leadership of FBR to understand his vision and thus would help take his vision forward.
The Chairman FBR said that the government accorded high priority to create an enabling environment for trade and businesses, especially for the SMEs, through simplification of laws and procedures, and to stimulate economic activity. “FBR, being cognizant of this vision, has taken a number of concrete measures to translate it into reality,” he underlined.
The Chairman said the FBR acknowledged the result-oriented vision of the Finance Minister. He said that under the dynamic leadership of the Finance Minister, the much-needed economic stability, which was elusive before, had been achieved. “Now the country is on the path to economic growth,” he underscored. He hoped that the growth trajectory would bring about prosperity, resulting in employment opportunities and economic empowerment of people.
Ashfaq Ahmed assured the Finance Minister that FBR was fully committed to achieving the target of the current year. “We are on track and would leave no stone unturned to surpass the historic milestone of Rs. 5.8 trillion,” he concluded.