ISLAMABAD: Tax payment procedures for businesses are being simplified and the number of taxes have been reduced to 16 from 47.
Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Haroon Sharif said this while addressing a joint press conference with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production Abdul Razak Dawood here on Wednesday.
Haroon said businessmen could now pay taxes online and laws would also be framed to ensure their easy access to banking credit. He said the Pakistan embassies abroad had also been directed to establish special visa desks to facilitate the investors.
Abdul Razak Dawood said the government was working hard to improve the ease of doing business for creating a niche for the country among the top 50 economies during the next five years.
"Pakistan currently is ranked at 136 in the ease of doing business; the government aims to bring it down to less than 100 in two years and among top 50 countries in the next five years," Razak said.
He said the ease of doing business was a major indicator for attracting foreign direct investment and for revival of industry. “When the current government assumed the office, Pakistan was ranked at 147 in ease of doing business and due to several short-term measures, it improved to the current 136th number,” he said.
The adviser said besides ease of doing business in the country, the government was also working on simplifying the taxation system and visa regime, and was taking steps to link all investment hubs of the country with the one-window facility.
Haroon Sharif said South Asia was among the fastest growing economies of the world, which was attracting investment. He said enhancing the foreign investment was the government’s top priority.
He said the BoI in close coordination with the provincial governments was working to simplify the taxation system, as about 47 types of manual payments were involved to start any business.
He said the [one-window] facility was started by taking the Federal Board of Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan andprovincial governments on board.
He said the government had also introduced one-window facility for company registration and the Punjab government was linked with the facility. He said the process for linking Sindh had been started while all other provinces would be linked by March this year.
In order to facilitate investment, the scope of one-window facility was extended to property registration and a web portal was launched, he said, adding that the procedures for acquiring other utilities, including electricity, water and gas, were also available on their websites.
Haroon said the government was also working on 10 other indicators including cross board trade with China, Afghanistan and India for streamlining matters related to trade and absorbing the increasing trade activities in ports.
He said for addressing the credit issues of exports, the government had evolved a mechanism to pay back returns. He said one third of refunds would be paid in cash whereas for the remaining amount, the government would launch promissory bonds to pay their refund claims.
Haroon said in order to attract foreign investment, dedicated business units would be established in each province to facilitate businessmen, besides making an easy access to credit for fulfilling the financing requirements.
He said the visa regime would also be improved for businessmen and visas would be issued within 24 hours. For further easing the visa process, an online visa facility with four countries has already been started which would be extended to 60 other countries in next phase, he added.
He said restricted movements had also been abolished. The BoI head said the foreign investors’ perception about Pakistan had changed after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s foreign visits and now investors from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, China and the UAE had shown keen interest for investing in different sectors of economy.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday directed the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) to focus on recovery from tax evaders and work for broadening the tax net.
Chairing a meeting at the Prime Minister Office (PMO) on introduction of reforms in the FBR, he advised the offshore taxation commissionerates to solve cases pertaining to offshore assets at the earliest.
He emphasised restoring people's trust in the FBR. The prime minister was briefed that new website and facilitation desk were being launched. It was said that the internal audit department was being separated from the FBR to enhance performance of the organization and ensure transparency.
It was informed that notices had been issued to hundreds of people in light of information received from various sources about Pakistanis having taxable assets on foreign lands. The FBR chairman told the briefing that offshore taxation commissionerates had been established in six big cities including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, Multan and Peshawar where cases pertaining to the assets in foreign countries will be scrutinized swiftly.
The receivable tax will be applicable to those who residing inside the country but having assets abroad. It will not be applied to the nationals residing permanently in a foreign country. The prime minister was also briefed about steps taken to bring big tax evaders and non-filers within the tax net.
He was also briefed about the FBR restructuring on modern lines, fulfilling the needs of manpower for the board, elimination of corruption from it, enhancing the capacity of tax authorities, streamlining of taxation system on sophisticated methods, reviewing performances of officers on regular basis, introduction of performance management system based on feedback from the tax-payers, making the payment of tax more easy and transformation of overall culture in the FBR.
Earlier chairing a meeting on the issues pertaining to the textile sector, Prime Minister Khan emphasized upon paying special attention to the skill development of the youth keeping in view the requirements of the local and international markets. He assured that the federal government would extend all possible support for the revival of textile sector.