As revenue shortfalls bite, PM beseeches business leaders to pay taxes

Updated March 08, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan hints at new tax body if the Federal Board of Revenue fails to achieve target.—
Prime Minister Imran Khan hints at new tax body if the Federal Board of Revenue fails to achieve target.—

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he may create a new tax authority if the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) fails to achieve collection targets while speaking at the 11th All-Pakistan Chambers President Conference on Thursday.

He said that despite taking multiple steps in the last seven months, the FBR’s performance has not been satisfactory.

The tax authority has failed to meet all collection targets in the ongoing fiscal year. Between July-February, the body missed collection target by Rs235 billion as total revenue clocked in at Rs2.328 trillion.

“Reforming FBR is essential. Until that is done, we will not be able to meet our expenses,” said the prime minister while assuring the business community that he will try his best to fix the FBR.

Hints at new tax body if FBR fails to achieve target

“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. He went on to say 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.

“This is why we will try our best to reform FBR and I assure you that I’ve had discussions and meetings with Finance Minister Asad Umar and Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on how to generate more revenue and turn FBR into a business-friendly institution”, the prime minister said.

Commenting on the current status of tax payments in the country, the prime minister asked how can it be that of the 210 million Pakistanis, only 72,000 individuals declare monthly income of Rs200,000 or above?

He also appealed the people to come under the tax net, adding that in return he would guarantee that their tax payments would not be wasted. “I assure you that each and every penny of tax collection will be spent with great caution,” he promised.

“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”, he said.

“I am ready to slash down taxes to widen the tax net but paying taxes should be considered a national duty”, he reiterated.

He also assured the business community that the government will do everything it can to facilitate them, indicating that “some more incentives are coming your way in the upcoming days”.

He said the focus of his government is to promote investments especially in exports-led sectors.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2019