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April 16, 2019

$10 bn whitened by PML-N govt still abroad: Hammad


April 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar Monday said the last tax amnesty scheme introduced by the PML-N government had facilitated expatriate Pakistanis to whiten $10 billion but this money never came into the country’s coffers.

“This $10 billion was whitened through the last tax amnesty scheme and now this money will never return,” he told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance which met here at the Parliament House.

Hammad said he could not commit any tax rate for the upcoming amnesty scheme, as they would further fine-tune it before sending it to the cabinet for final approval. He said the amnesty scheme was not aimed at revenue measures, as the government would follow through major broadening of tax base exercise all over the country after giving last chance for availing this upcoming facility.

“This will be first and last scheme forever,” he said, adding that the tax authorities did not want to harass anyone but the state would not retreat from taking a stern action against those who possessed income but never bothered to declare it before the tax authorities. He said the government possessed data from all avenues to broaden the tax base and it would be rolled out all over the country.

He said the government was coming up with a scheme for small traders having shops of 200 to 300 square meters and struck almost 90 percent agreement on the proposed fixed rate. He said the FBR was sending notices on daily basis under the Benami law.

Faizullah, the committee chairman, said a sub-committee would be formed on the FATF issue and an in-camera meeting would be held for briefings on all relevant issues. He said the government would bring down tariff rate on raw material but hike rates for finished products, adding that intervention could be done on an exceptional basis in order to protect the local industries.

President FPCCI called for introducing a long-term amnesty scheme, as any scheme having period of one month might not achieve the desired results. Real estate tycoons, including Shauban Ali, said the PPP had launched an amnesty scheme for the stock market in 2012 that remained successful and suggested that the PTI should also announce a long-term amnesty scheme in order to create awareness at the first stage and then give chance to people to avail themselves of this facility.

Mirza Ikhtiar Baig said the IMF and other multilateral lenders were projecting lowest growth for Pakistan this year and the next year so the government should come up with measures to boost up the dwindling GDP growth trajectory through policy intervention. He said one percent GDP reduction meant losing 3 million jobs so instead of providing jobs the dwindling growth would increase unemployment in the country.

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