ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday stressed the need for revenue and tax collection as key drivers for the economic stability and noted that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had significant role in this regard.
Addressing a gathering of taxmen of FBR, the prime minister said that the countrymen were generous in charity giving, but shirk of paying taxes and urged the FBR officials to devise reforms which could restore peoples’ confidence in the tax machinery besides, enhancing their performance coupled with easy tax payment system.
The prime minister also assured the FBR officials that they would be fully taken on board on tax reforms as their role had been crucial in the country’s economic stability.
He said Pakistan had been at the historical crossroads and his government was committed for reforms in the revenue and tax systems which had already been started.
The government through holistic approach had been introducing all bracing reforms, with exports witnessing a surge and the stock exchange was gaining momentum, he added.
The prime minister also expressed his satisfaction over the country’s enhanced performance in the ease of doing business as its business outlook had been enhanced by seven per cent.
He asked the FBR authorities to give their input and feedback on the tax collection.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firous Ashiq Awan, Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh, FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and senior officials were present during the interaction.
The prime minister said without efficient functioning of the FBR, the country could not achieve the financial stability.
He said the country could not run on the old pattern as the present government had inherited the biggest financial deficit and current account deficit. Half of the tax collection, in the first year, was spent on debt servicing, he added.
He said collection of Rs8 trillion tax was not difficult, unless all the stakeholders considered it as their national responsibility and sacred duty to work for the achievement of this task. The tax collection during the fiscal year was targeted at Rs5.5 trillion.
The prime minister observed that if steps for the collection of enhanced tax were not taken, it could give rise to complications in the future as these were also vital for the human resource development.
The country had huge potential in terms of its young population and if they were provided with opportunities, the country could progress on path of progress and prosperity, he added.
He said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had entered into another phase which would spur industrialization and business opportunities across the country.
The prime minister also cited the Scandinavian countries including Sweden and Norway where the people had been paying taxes as they knew that these were spent on their welfare judiciously.
He regretted that in Pakistan, the past rulers took it as their prerogative to spend the public tax money on their personal requirements.
He said his government after coming into power started an austerity drive, and cut down Rs350 million expenditures of the PM 0ffice, besides, the federal government’s expenditures were slashed by Rs45 billion.
The prime minister said that the government entities including the governors’ houses would be converted for the public places, thus bringing down their expenditures and cited the Governor House in Murree where a sum of Rs830 million alone was spent in the past over its renovation.
He expressed the resolve that his government would spend the public money on the welfare and uplift of the public.
He said his recent Washington visit only cost $65,000 as compared to previous visits by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif who spent $0.8 million and 0.7 million respectively.
The prime minister said during the United Nations visits, Asif Ali Zardari spent $1.2 million, Nawaz Sharif $1.1 million, Khaqan Abbasi $800,000 whereas his visit only cost $160,000.
A huge amount of Rs50 billion was spent on advertisement by the previous rulers from the public tax money, he added.
The prime minister said that the nationalization policy of 70s had also impacted the growth rate of the country in which wealth creation was considered as offence.
He said the government was determined to provide business climate in the country through ease of doing business.
He also credited the overseas Pakistan who had been the biggest assets of the country sending remittances regularly thus strengthening the national economy.
The prime minister also responded to various queries and suggestions by the FBR officials.