ISLAMABAD: A statement attributed to the finance minister-in-waiting Asad Umar, ‘there is no other option left for Pakistan apart from consulting International Monetary Fund (IMF)’ has eased the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) because before this statement there were number of observations and concerns among the higher leadership of FBR about possible extent of pressure from the new government on speeding up the pace of revenue collection.
Although in his social media statement, Asad Umar overtly dismissed rumors that he had stated there was no other option left for Pakistan apart from consulting International Monetary Fund (IMF). “I had said no option including IMF is ruled out. I have said the same thing many times before and after elections”.
However, after the circulation in media and economic circles of the said statement, a well placed source at FBR told this scribe here on Sunday that FBR leadership had taken a sigh of relief just because of the fact that upcoming finance minister was quite alive to the economic challenges confronted by the nation. Therefore, FBR may not face any kind of extra pressure from the new government for the creation of more finances for meeting up the surging needs of running of the daily business of the government.
Actually, the source said that FBR had already near missed the revenue collection target and the previous government had fixed an ambitious revenue target for the fiscal year 2018-19 which was almost Rs500 billion higher than previous year.
Therefore, on the basis of available human and infrastructural resources, FBR may not be in a position to demonstrate further better performance. FBR has doubled the tax revenue in five years and increased the tax to GDP ratio from 8.5% of the GDP in 2012-13 to 13.2% of the GDP in 2017-18. This increase was achieved despite the fact then government was reluctant to challenge most of the influential tax evaders.
Moreover, the source said that rebuttal of statement from the finance minister in waiting had also given a little bit insight into a soft side of his personality; therefore, the tax authorities would be in a comfort zone in discussion with him on financial, economic and revenue collection related issues. During the previous regimes, finance minister had been a little bit assertive on the FBR officials regarding issuance of SROs for tax exemptions for some certain sectors which proved disastrous for the spirit of revenue collectors as well as total tune of revenue collection.