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95pc tax filers had availed last amnesty scheme, NA body told

April 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Tuesday told the parliamentarians that around 95 percent return filers had availed last tax amnesty scheme to whiten their assets during the PML-N government which clearly demonstrated that the real potential for increasing revenues lies with under filers.

“The broadening of tax base should focus more where the potential lies as the last amnesty scheme was availed by those 95 percent who were return filers. It indicates where the real potential lies,” the FBR’s Member Tax Policy Hamid Ateeq Sarwar told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance which met here at the Parliament House on Tuesday.

He went on saying that total tax concession pushed up to Rs700 billion and the business community demanded another incentives/relief to the tune of Rs800 billion in the upcoming budget totalling the tax expenditure cost to Rs1.5 trillion. He elaborated that the tax concession cost was standing at Rs540 billion shown in the last Economic Survey for 2017-18 and it further went up by Rs140 billion in the ongoing fiscal year including Rs100 billion relief given by the last PML-N regime in 2018-19 budget and then Rs40 billion relief provided through second supplementary finance act 2019. “With relief going up to Rs1.5 trillion, how the tax to GDP ratio will be jacked up when the FBR is supposed to collect Rs5 to Rs5.5 trillion,” he questioned.

He also questioned that how the country’s affairs would be run in this fiscal situation. While giving budget proposals for 2019-20, Zubair Tufail, former president FPCCI, asked the government to slash down GST rate from 17 to 15 percent. He said that the GST rate should be reduced gradually and brought down one percent on per annum basis. He proposed to jack up valuation rate for real estate by both the FBR and provincial governments and reduced the tax rates from existing 10-12 percent to one to two percent.

The joint chambers of commerce and industries in their recommendations asked the government to reduce the number of all federal and provincial taxes from 92 to only 5 in order to achieve ease of doing business in Pakistan.

He said that the government must facilitate manufacturing sector of the economy and should give 10 yeas tax exemptions to green field investments, saying that it will not only generate new jobs but will also play critical role in sustainable growth of the country. He said that in Karachi per unit cost of electricity for domestic consumers stood at Rs21 per unit.

The representatives of the business community also suggested the government to broad the tax net by bringing retailers, professional such as lawyers, doctors, consultants and real estate sector to the tax net.

The business community also asked the FBR to reduce corporate tax from 29 percent to 25 percent as well as reducing personal income tax to 20 percent. They said that small and medium enterprises should be promoted.

The government should not sell land to Chinese investors but provide on lease basis, they further recommended. The government must protect the rights of tax payers and eliminate non-filer tax as it was not serving the purpose.