ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar underlined the need for effective use of information technology for data collection, terming it the way forward to increase revenue and widen tax net in the country. Dar asked the FBR officials to enhance liaison and coordination with local organisations as well as interact with Royal Revenue Service of the UK and Turkey which had set glaring examples of increasing collection of taxes.
The finance minister shared the thoughts while chairing a meeting held to review pace of work on the compilation of a tax directory to be consisted of tax details of parliamentarians and arrangements for its publication by Feb 15.
The minister was apprised that as part of the amnesty scheme, the FBR was facilitating parliamentarians in acquisition of National Tax Numbers (NTNs) to help them file their tax returns and become compliant taxpayers.
It is to be recalled that during policy statement made in the last session of the Senate, the minister asked the tax officials to issue NTNs to all those parliamentarians having no tax numbers. The minister was informed that the FBR would ensure that all the parliamentarians got their NTNs and declare their incomes, especially salary.
It is believed that at least 10 to 15 per cent parliamentarians either do not have NTNs or have not yet filed returns.
Some of the parliamentarians belong to tax-free areas, like Fata, Pata and some areas in Balochistan where income tax act has not been extended.
Last year, the government set up a facilitation desk for parliamentarians but some of the parliamentarians did not avail the facility. Though the FBR faced a revenue shortfall of Rs69 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year, Dar satisfied with the FBR performance in achieving 16pc growth against the projected growth target of 27pc during the corresponding period.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister said the government had set an ambitious revenue target of Rs2,475 billion for the current fiscal year and emphasised the FBR officials to focus their energies on the efforts to meet the target.
Briefing the minister, FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa said that the FBR had collected Rs1,031 billion till Dec 31, 2013. He informed that the FBR had refunded Rs56 billion against sales tax compared to Rs44bn in the corresponding period last year.
The finance minister also chaired a high-powered committee set up to streamline and rationalise statutory regulatory orders (SROs). He directed the FBR high-ups to make strenuous efforts to reach the desired decision about SROs at earliest.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar said that fingers of the first half of the current fiscal year indicated that the economy was on track and moving in the right direction.
Talking to members of a delegation of the Department for International Development (DFID), he said that revenue collection had shown an increase of 16 percent, exports 5 percent and remittances rose by 9 percent, adding that Pakistan Bureau of Statistics had reported 5 percent growth in the economy in the first quarter while the in the Karachi Stock Exchange index had crossed 27,000 point mark.
The DFID delegation comprised of UK High Commissioner Phlip Barton, Mrs Pauline Haupres, Richard Montgomery and Moazzam Malik.
Ishaq Dar informed the delegation that the government had inherited a fragile position and entered into an IMF Programme to stabilize it. He said that Pakistan still suffered from negative inflows despite an IMF plan and reiterated the government resolve to increase foreign exchange reserves to $16 billion by the end of the present year.
On the occasion, Moazzam Malik appreciated the government economic policies said that the UK was looking at ways to provide further assistance to Pakistan. DFID head Richard Montgomery appreciated the decision of the government to publish tax directory for parliamentarians.
During the meeting, the Income Support Programme also came under discussion. It was assured that the Finance Ministry would make timely releases so that the beneficiaries of the programme get the money well in time.