Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the chief of staff of Nawaz Sharif on finance and economy, has boasted of the foreign exchange reserves which have crossed $21 billion due to what he believes dynamic policies of the government. He hopes a sustained pace of growth will turn Pakistan into an economically sovereign state by 2018, the year when the mandate of the current government will end. During his meetings with officers in the Federal Board of Revenue office, he blamed the previous government for taking heavy loans due to which his government had to turn towards the International Monitory Fund to get more loans to pay back the old debts. Saying this, Mr Dar revisited the hackneyed phrases of his predecessors as the sitting officials are in the habit of blaming the previous government for every wrongdoing.
On another note, Dar appreciated the FBR officers for their tremendous performance in tax collection during the last two fiscal years, saying they have done four years job just in two years by collecting huge amount of taxes and bringing thousands of new taxpayers into the tax net. He also advised the FBR officials to fix more difficult and aggressive tax collection targets for the next year. Dar is absolutely right that tax collection needs to be increased, but it will be only possible when potential taxpayers are brought into the tax net. No one wants to pay tax voluntarily all over the world, but the tax system has been developed in the progressive economies over the years and it cannot be done overnight in Pakistan. Every country has its own ground realities and we cannot blindly follow the footsteps of others. The PML-N government is taking tough and unpopular decisions of tax collection, but without evolving a modern tax collection system. In this situation, a hope that the nation will enjoy the fruits of the government’s unpopular decisions will remain a hope until the trust deficit between the government and the business community is removed.
Quoting noted economists; Dar says that Pakistan’s economy is set to take off’. But the minister should know when wings of economy are clipped, how it will take off. There is a need to take confidence building measures between the government and the business community. When businessmen are harassed, it pushes capital flight from the country. The government officials should find the causes why Pakistani money is illegally transferred to Sri Lanka, Dubai, Malaysia, US, and Swiss accounts. Instead, Pakistan should be a safe destination for foreign money.