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ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government on Thursday paid Rs31.3bn sales tax refunds to traders and exporters a few hours ahead of completion of its five-year term of government while leaving behind massive shortfalls in revenue collection.

The Ministry of Finance has asked Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to prepare a list of claimants who will be issued a refund. The list was completed in a very short time and the full amount will reach taxpayers’ account within 24 hours.

The total amount of refund issued till May 31 reached to Rs100bn in first 11 months up by 85 per cent from Rs54bn paid out over the corresponding period of last year.

The business leaders welcomed the government’s last minute decision while pointing out that the timeline has been “synchronised with the upcoming election and is a political move.”

Sales tax refund payments touch Rs100bn till May, up 85pc from last year

The business leaders criticised the government for wooing traders through this decision. The PML-N has politicised even the genuine payment of taxpayers refunds. Since Nov 2016, sales tax refund has been credited directly into the account of the taxpayers within 24 hours.

The revenue collection has posted a growth of 15pc in the 11 months of the current fiscal year as it reached to reached to Rs3274bn during the July-May 2018 period as against Rs2854bn over the corresponding months of last year.

The FBR has already revised downward the budgetary revenue target to Rs3935bn from Rs4013, reflecting a shortfall of Rss78bn. But even to achieve the revised target, FBR will have to collect Rs661bn in the month of June 2018.

An official statement issued by the FBR said that the collection was recorded excluding collection on account of book adjustments.

On monthly basis, the provisional collection for the month of May 2018 is Rs351bn excluding collection on account of book adjustments as against Rs346bn collected during the corresponding month of the previous fiscal year.

FBR has recorded a paltry growth of 1.44pc in the revenue collected during the May, 2018. The figures of collection received in the treasuries of the remote areas may further swell the revenue figures.

The revenue collection trend during the first 11 months of the financial year augurs well for the efforts of FBR towards achievement of the assigned revised annual revenue targets, added the announcement.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2018