Tuesday April 16, 2024

PM showers praise on top taxpayers, calls them country’s ambassadors

The PM conceded that every government in the last 76 years would have to share responsibility for collective failures and mistakes

By Mehtab Haider
March 27, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing the ceremony titled “Tax Excellence Awards 2024 at PM Office in Islamabad on March 26, 2024. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing the ceremony titled “Tax Excellence Awards 2024" at PM Office in Islamabad on March 26, 2024. — PID

ISLAMABAD: While declaring the highest taxpayers of each category as ambassadors of Pakistan and granting all award-winning exporters and compliant taxpayers blue passports, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that there was no other way but to seek a fresh bailout programme from the IMF.

The PM conceded that every government in the last 76 years would have to share responsibility for collective failures and mistakes, due to which we lagged. He said he took the oath 25 days ago and was now fully focusing on economic revival.

“It is necessary to go for another IMF programme after the expiry of the existing Standby Arrangement (SBA), under which the last tranche is expected to be received next month. There is no other way out. Now, our friends got scared that we might have a hidden begging bowl and would place it in front of them. This begging bowl would have to be abandoned. The amount stuck at different legal forums stands at Rs2.7 trillion, but I have made a special request to the chief justice of Pakistan to issue directions to this effect. We will make appointments in appellate tribunals on merit,” Premier Shehbaz Sharif said while addressing the ceremony titled “Tax Excellence Awards 2024” here at the PM Office.

The PM made it clear that there were rampant leakages in the taxation system and there was no justification to slap more taxes. He said that there was a massive gap in terms of the tax-to-GDP ratio. He also announced undertaking restructuring of the FBR next month but did not give any specific timeframe; however, he added in the same breath that one would hear announcements to this effect in the coming days and weeks.

The PM announced that renowned businessman Mian Mansha became the highest taxpayer by paying Rs26 billion. He said the leading exporters and highest taxpayers are the heroes of Pakistan and trendsetters for others. He also announced that the government would also provide awards to good tax officers, while all those who are not doing any good work would be paraded here.

The premier said the country would have to opt simultaneously for stabilisation under the IMF programme and gradually move towards a growth trajectory to create jobs. He said the IMF did not bar us from raising IT exports and achieving higher agricultural growth.

He said that everyone was fasting here, so he could not offer a cup of tea with borrowed money. The fiscal position, he said, was bleak, but he was making an all-out effort in consultation with the provinces to fix the economy.

On the SIFC, he said that it was meant to overcome red tape with the expectation that Pakistan would be able to attract investment from Gulf countries and China in certain specific sectors, including agriculture, IT, mining, and others. He also said that the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be launched with an increased focus on industrial cooperation and special economic zones in Dhabeji, and others would have to be made operational by ensuring all provisions whereby Chinese companies would be coming in to relocate their industries.

He said that the loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were under his direct oversight, and he was chairing daily meetings to privatise the PIA, while airports would be outsourced.

The PM also highlighted the Gaza tragedy and said that the UNSC had passed a resolution, and now there was a need to ensure full implementation to achieve peace and protect the rights of oppressed Palestinians.

Minister for Finance Mohammad Aurangzeb announced an end-to-end digitalisation in the FBR. There were rampant leakages, and the Track and Trace System (TTS) would be implemented in true letter and spirit to plug leakages and collect needed revenues. He said that there was a need to improve the client experience. He said the government would formulate a policy and ensure full implementation, but the private sector would lead the growth.

“We have to accelerate export-led growth instead of depending on imports to achieve a higher growth, which has remained unsustainable.”

Pakistan Business Council (PBC) head Shahbir Dewan said that instead of giving awards, there was a need to reduce energy costs to make exporters regionally competitive. He proposed measures to broaden the tax base and said that only three percent of taxpayers paid 90 percent of their taxes. He said that the tax rate for the corporate sector stood at 60 percent. FBR Chairman Amjad Zubair Tawana and FPCCI President Atif Akram Sheikh also spoke.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif distributed 65 awards among leading exporters and compliant taxpayers during the Tax Excellence Award 2004 in a special ceremony held at the PM Office.

In the awards presented to exporters, the premier honoured Shahzad Asghar Ali, CEO of Style Textile Pvt Ltd; Muhammad Maqsood, Group CFO/President of Interloop Limited; Mian Umer Mansha, CEO of Nishat Mills Ltd; Murtaza Ahmed, CEO of Artistic Milliners; Wasif Sattar, Director HR of Gul Ahmed; Zulfiqar Ali Khan of Yunus Textile; Hasan Saleem of Liberty Mills; and Ali Asrar Hussain Aga of US Apparel and Textiles. The sector-wise awardees include Asif Jooma, CEO of ICI, and Mujtaba, CEO of Archroma Pakistan Ltd in the chemical sector; Faisal Graib of Graibsons Pvt Ltd and Bilal Ismail Ahmed of Ismail Industries in the food products sector; Chaudhry Saif Javed, Director of Service Global Footwear Limited, in the leather sector; Muhammad Mustafa Bin Talha, Director Operations of Pakistan Accumulators, in the machinery sector; Misbah Burney, Finance Director of Tetra Pak Ltd, in the paper and plastics sector; Khalid Mehmood, CEO of Getz Pharma Pvt Ltd, in the pharmaceutical sector; Muhammad Mansha of Forward Sports Pvt Ltd and Jarrar Hussain Awan of Awan Sports Industries in the sports sector; Mughal Steel in the steel and metal sector; and Ali Azfar Naqvi, Head of Commercial Operations of United Energy Pakistan Limited in the category of other exporters.

In the category of non-traditional exporters, the awardees include Syed Asad Hussain Zaidi, CFO of Pakistan Aluminum and Beverages; Jehanzaib Riaz, Director of Finance of Shan Foods Private; and Shahid Rathore, Managing Partner of Maritime Seafood.

For the top exporter of information technology, the winners are Asif Peer, Chief Executive of System Limited; Waseem Ahmed of Contour Software Pvt Ltd; and Abu Bakar Hanif of ABS Labs. Those with the highest growth include Naved Amer of Fine Textiles and Abdul Rehman of Ali Murtaza Associates.

First-time exporters awarded include Muhammad Abdullah, Director of M/s Hasan Rice Corporation (Pvt) Ltd; Mian Dad, Director of M D K Exports and Imports; and Mohsin Aziz, Principal Officer/Member of M/s Waqar Rice Mills (AOP). Women exporters recognised are Hira Butt, daughter of the taxpayer; Huma Arshad, owner of Huma Arshad AA Enterprises; and Salma Sultana, owner of Salma Sultana Babar Brothers.

The highest taxpayers in all taxes include Syed Taha, MD of Pakistan State Oil; Syed Ali Akbar, MD/CEO of Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC); Ahmed Hayat Lak, Managing Director of OGDCL; Irteza Ali Qureshi, Managing Director of Pak-Arab Refinery Limited; Imran Abbasy, CEO of PPL; Ali Asghar Jamali, Indus Motors; Masood Nabi, Managing Director of Government Holdings (Private) Limited; Khurram Shah, Director Public Policy of PEPSI-Cola Intyernational (Private) Limited; Syed Imran ALI Shah of Meezan Bank; Nauman Ahmed Usmani of National Refinery Limited; Faheem Haider, Managing Director of Mari Petroleum; and Syed Omar of Coca Cola.

In the category of highest taxpayers of income tax, the top taxpayer is Mian Muhammad Mansha, Chairman of MCB; Arif Akmal Saifie, CFO of United Bank Limited; Rehan Sheikh of Standard Chartered Bank; Mohammad Ali of HBL and Rehmat Ali Hassnie of NBP.

In the category of AOPs, Nazim Feroz is included, and in the individual taxpayers category, Umer Shakeel of Imtiaz Provision Store, Musadaq Zulqarnain, Chairman of Interloop Ltd; Tarique Aziz Channa, Proprietor of MBC & Sons Builders & Developers; and Tariq Rafi, owner of Shamsi Associates, are recognised.

New taxpayers who paid the maximum tax include Tauseef Nawaz, Managing Partner of M/s Logisticsone, and Raheem Nawaz, Managing Partner of M/s Fertlink International.

In the last category of SMEs, Khalid Yousuf, owner/sole proprietor of Khalid Yousuf Modern Pain Industries; Rana Nadeem, CEO of Nadeem Rana Publisher and Muhammad Aslam are recognised.