Fetch more revenue, PM tells FBR

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to adopt all legal ways and means available under the law to ensure collection of taxes and filing of returns by all those earning taxable income but not paying their due share in the national exchequer. Sources told Business Recorder here on Monday that the PM has given these directions to FBR Chairman Tariq Pasha and his team of tax managers at a briefing on the ‘broadening of tax base and the FBR collection’ here at the Prime Minister Secretariat on Monday.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Secretary Finance Shahid Mahmood, Advisor to the PM on Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail, Chairman FBR Tariq Pasha, FBR Member Tax Policy, FBR Director General Broadening of tax base (BTB), Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and other senior officials.

According to the sources, FBR Chairman Tariq Pasha gave a detailed briefing to the Prime Minister on existing position of ‘broadening of tax base’ and a proposed plan to revamp the existing system of expanding the tax net. The FBR has also drafted a new plan to expand the tax base to enforce filing of returns and shared the same with the PM. The FBR also shared areas of potential taxpayers and existing measures adopted to enforce filing of returns and recovery of taxes under Income Tax Ordinance 2001.

The seriousness of the PM on the issues of ‘broadening of tax base’ was visible from the fact that he patiently listened to the briefing which took over one-and-a-half hour on this specific issue and asked different questions from the FBR, sources said.

During the meeting, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi gave clear directions to the FBR team of tax managers to maximize focus on expanding revenue base, increase revenue collection and take action against those persons, who are earning above the taxable income, but are not filing returns or paying taxes as required under the law. The PM showed concern over the existing situation where many persons earning taxable income are not filing returns.

The PM has further informed tax authorities that the performance of the FBR would be watched closely and its periodical reviews would also be carried out on regular basis. He further directed the FBR that the burden of taxes should not be increased on the existing taxpayers. However, new steps need to be taken to expand tax net and measures for protection of the local manufacturing and domestic industry.

FBR Chairman Tariq Pasha informed that the number of return filers last year stood at 1.2 million which would be substantially increased during current fiscal year by enforcing the new broadening the tax base plan after approval. He further briefed that besides revenue collection, top priority of the FBR is to expand the tax base and bring new taxpayers into the tax net. Meanwhile a press release issued here on Monday said that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting on revenue and tax collection.

Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar briefed the Prime Minister on current economic and financial health of the country. Commitment to broaden tax base and facilitate payment of taxes was reiterated during the briefing, said the press release.

The Prime Minister was apprised that collection of taxes has witnessed successful upward trajectory over past four years and overall tax collection has increased on sustainable basis, making the outflows available for infrastructural development projects as well as public welfare schemes. The Prime Minister observed that taxation was core function of the public sector management and is also seen as an imperative for modern system of governance in context of viable state. To this extent, he said, the government is committed to utilizing tax revenues for the development and welfare of common man.

The Prime Minister said that economic turnaround achieved as a result of prudent economic policies pursued by the present government should be further consolidated to maintain macroeconomic stability and ensuring sustainable economic growth. Besides others, secretary finance and senior government officials were also present during the meeting.