ISLAMABAD – Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said the government was confident of achieving the Federal Board Revenue (FBR) tax collection target of Rs 4.96 trillion set in the budget 2020-21.
While concluding discussion on the Finance Bill 2020-21 in the National Assembly here, the minister said those who were considering the target as ambitious should know that during the pre-COVID period, the tax collection was increasing at a rate of 17 percent compared to the last year.
He said normally tax collection during last quarter of the financial year remains highest as compared to the first three quarters but unfortunately outbreak of the pandemic dented the overall economy and revised tax target of Rs 4.8 trillion could not be achieved.
The minister pointed out that the present government inherited a weak economy but due to its concerted efforts, the government succeeded in stabilizing the economy which was evident by the fact that all the international financial institutions were praising Pakistan government performance on economic front prior to outbreak of the pandemic.
He said the COVID-19 had affected the whole world and the world economy was projected to be slowed down by 4-6 billion causing loss of US$12 trillion.
In such worst situation, the government had to present a tax free budget he said adding that presenting a tax free budget while enhancing allocations for development as well as education and health budgets in the face of coronavirus shows the true leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Hammad Azhar said the government achieved remarkable success during the last fiscal year especially in its first nine months while all financial needs had been equated as per resources in this federal budget 2020-21.
The minister said the government tried to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on the economy by pursuing a prudent strategy.
He said the government reduced the current account deficit by 73 percent, trade deficit 31 percent and fiscal deficit by 3.8 percent in the first nine months of current fiscal year.
He said it is also for the first time that our primary surplus remained positive.
He said Foreign Direct Investment also doubled from one billion dollars to two billion dollars and refunds of Rs 250 billion were also made to the businesses.
To cope with the situation, the government gave a mega stimulus package and under this the payments were made to all the provinces.
The minister said that Rs. 75 billion were allocated for bulk purchases of Personal protective equipment’. He said Pakistan today was producing PPEs . He said cash assistance of Rs 12000 each had been given to 16 million people in addition we also paid the electricity bills of small and medium enterprises for three months.
Hammad Azhar said the government opted phased wise lifting up lockdown to protect the livelihoods of the vulnerable groups.
Sharing the main points of the next budget, the minster said that no new tax had been imposed rather a several taxes had been abolished.
He said the custom duties on 1600 tariff lines of different raw materials had been abolished. Over ten withholding taxes have also been waved off. He said 661 billion rupees had been set aside for the annual Public Sector Development Program.
He said Balochistan had been given the biggest share in the PSDP followed by Sindh.
The minister categorically stated that the federal government had not withheld the amounts of the provinces under the National Finance Commission and an amount of Rs. 88 billion had been additional given to the Balochistan.
The minister said that the recommendations of the Upper House for the Finance Bill 2020-21 would be given due consideration.