Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that reforming Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) is high on his agenda, but warned that if the tax collection authority cannot be fixed, he will create a new one.
"Reforming FBR is essential. Until that is done, we [the state] will not be able to meet our expenses," the prime minister said in an address to the 11th All-Pakistan Chambers President Conference in Islamabad.
"This is why we will try our best [to fix] FBR and I assure you [the business community] that I've been constantly having discussions and meetings with Abdul Razzaq Dawood and Asad Umar on how to generate revenue and make FBR a business-friendly institute.
"But I should also tell you this: if we realise that the FBR cannot be fixed, we will create a new FBR. This is because Pakistan's survival is linked to it. It's not about our liking or disliking: if our tax collection authority does not function properly, it could lead to a security risk. No nation that relies on loans can maintain its pride and independence," he said.
The prime minister urged the nation to come into the tax net, adding that in return he would guarantee that their tax would not be misspent.
"I assure you that each and every penny of Pakistanis' tax collection will be spent with great caution," he said. "We will end all unnecessary expenses. But what I want from you is to tell the people that it is impossible for any country to succeed without paying their taxes. How can it be that of the 210m Pakistanis only 72,000 declare monthly incomes of Rs200,000 or more?"
The prime minister said that effective tax collection is central to any country's independence as "constant borrowing to make ends meet" eventually becomes a threat to its sovereignty.
The premier said he could even be open to slashing down taxes to extend the tax net but stressed that "paying taxes should be considered a national duty".
The prime minister assured the business community that his government will do all he can to facilitate them, indicating that "some more incentives are coming your way in the upcoming days".