LAHORE: The government is trying to introduce a uniform sales tax system and if the tax rate, which at present is only 11 per cent, is not increased it will lead the country towards bankruptcy, said State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar on Saturday.
The minister, accompanied by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Shabbar Zaidi, was meeting with heads of various trade associations and businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Expressing grave concern over the budget 2019-20, the traders’ community criticised the government for doubting everybody and urged the minister and chairman FBR to make efforts to ensure that uncertain business environment was done away with.
On the occasion, the FBR chairman said the main theme of the federal budget is the development of industrial sector and to generate employment opportunities. Keeping in view the problems of business community regarding customs duty, valuation and clearance, ratio of Green Channel would be taken to 60 per cent. He further said that Sales Tax Registration process has been automated while certification for imports would also be automated soon as automation.
“Automation in FBR is the need of the hour and the government wanted less human inference in the tax system by utilizing modern technology to strengthen its transparency and accountability system”, Zaidi added.
Responding to a question, he said that FBR was ready to consider new legislation for Small & Medium Steel Melters. While answering another question, the chairman FBR said that condition of CNIC of the buyer was not applicable yet.
Businessmen slam thieves’ label
“Please stop calling businessmen thieves. If you continue saying this, we will close our businesses,” warned Sheikh Asif, a trade association representative. He urged the government to do away with the condition of necessary CNIC documentation for buyers. Another participant asked the FBR chief to advise his department not to issue wrong tax notices to the traders and industrialists.
While responding to a number of queries, the FBR chairman said that he had decided to limit the role of auditing and raiding systems in a bid to end element of fear prevailing among the business community. “We assure you of all possible help to resolve your issues. But we have to expand our tax net and keep the wheel of industry moving. We are also set to take a mega action against smuggling and unlawful afghan trade,” he said.
Zaidi said the government is ready to face difficulties for the sake of changing the system. “We will consult the business community on the issue of zero-rated regime if new system of refunds doesn’t work,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019