Dar vows to ‘tax the rich, provide relief to masses’

* Minister tells FBR to incentivise and facilitate voluntary tax payments in next budget, introduce new schemes to help people file tax returns without hassle

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Sunday directed the FBR officials to suggest measures which could be helpful in solving the issue of sales tax refunds.
Chairing a meeting held at the Finance Ministry to review the budgetary proposals presented by the FBR for the upcoming budget, the finance minister said the voluntary tax payment should be incentivised and facilitated. He directed the officials to introduce new schemes to help people file their tax returns without difficulties and misrepresentation.
He directed the tax officials to improve, simplify and consolidate various schemes so that the exports in the country could thrive and the traders could benefit from the GSP plus status recently awarded to Pakistan.
FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa discussed various tax proposals during the consultative session. He said that FBR is working with utmost efficiency to improve the system of tax collection by simplifying schemes, balancing controls and facilitation, encouraging sectoral competitiveness and efficiencies. Further, the FBR is also working on a plan to reduce the discretionary powers of its officials to ensure transparency of the tax collection system, he said.
The finance minister said that the government wants to take forward the reforms process in the collection of different taxes. He said that the reforms process was now being undertaken after almost 30 years. “In this exercise our broad principle will be to tax the privileged and endowed and relieve the masses,” he said.
The finance minister said, “We would like to incorporate the suggestions given by the business community in the new budget as we acknowledge the contribution of the business community in the development of the country.”
Separately, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry Zakaria Usman that the economy has performed much better as compared to the corresponding period of the last fiscal year as revenue collection increased and budget deficit has decreased.
Usman called on the finance minister at the Finance Ministry on Sunday to discuss issues related to the budget for fiscal year 2014-15.
The finance minister said that the economy has performed much better as compared to the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. He said that the revenue collection has been Rs 1745 billion in July-Apr 2013-14 as compared to Rs 1509 in the corresponding period of last fiscal year, registering an increase of 15.6%. Similarly, the budget deficit has decreased to 4.0% as compared to 5.5% in the same period last year. Trade deficit has gone down by 2.5% and GDP growth rate stands at 4.1% as compared to 3.4% in the first half of the financial year, he added. He said that it is due to better economic performance that the international financial institutions including World Bank and Asian Development Bank are back in business with Pakistan after a lapse of 5-7 years.
The FPCCI president appreciated steps taken by the government in order to put the economy back on track and stressed that the business community is with the government in reforming the system. He informed the finance minister that he and his delegation had a very useful meetings with the FBR officials and proposals have been forwarded to the officials concerned for consideration in the next budget. He assured the finance minister that the business community will continue to work with the government for betterment and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.

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