ISLAMABAD: Despite cramming for the retrieval of Pakistani’s assets from abroad, the new government is required to focus on the improvement of tax collection system along with enhancing the level of availability of facilities and allowances for the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
As per hypothetical media reports and pinpointed by former finance minister and finance minister in waiting, Pakistanis own wealth of trillions of dollars abroad especially in Swish banks. But in this regard, a few days back, FBR cleared that no discussion with any country including Switzerland ever held for the repatriation of said assets.
A source at FBR told Customs Today on Wednesday that not a single penny would be brought back from abroad in next two or three years because the actual amount of the money or value of assets had not yet been ascertained. Furthermore, once this amount or value is ascertained, then proper mechanism along with the signature of treaties would be required for this purpose.
Moreover, the source said that prior to the signature of treaties with those countries where funds or assets were present, proper legislation would be required which would allow the prosecution for the ascertainment of ownership of the assets and funds. Once the prosecution process would be completed, then the government will be in a position to ink a treaty with other countries with a request for the repatriation of funds or assets; however, it will be up to that country’s will either to accept Pakistan’s ownership over those assets or funds or not.
Therefore, the source said that the government in waiting would be required to enhance the level of facilities and budgetary allocations for FBR because the tax authority would be last hope for the government to bridge the current account deficit by enhancing the tune of revenue collection. In this regard, more administrative and financial empowerment of the Inland Revenue and Investigation department will be required.
“Currently, not a single penny is allocated at any level for the retrieval of information, conducting an operation or other heads in IR & I which hampers the officers for the deployment of an inspector for digging out information about tax evasion activity” the source said, adding that this situation was tantamount to discouragement among the officers and inspectors because they even did not have funds for some extra fuel for official entourages for operation.
The source said that IR & I was contributing up to 90% in the revenue collection but getting allocations up to 50 to 60% of the total budgetary allocations for the FBR. Such a state of financial affairs was not proving helpful in the promotion of revenue collection activity across the country because this department needed heavy amounts for the expansion of tax base.
“But, the situation is worst to the extent that higher officials have stopped putting forward demands for the provision of funds or facilities just because of the repeated rejection of demands by the Finance Division,” the source added.