ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) is organising an International Con­fere­nce on Digitalisation of Taxes in Pakistan, in collaboration with the Fede­ral Board of Revenue (FBR), in Islamabad on June 20.

The three-day conference is being held in the context of an ESCAP technical assistance project to FBR, which focuses on four areas of information and communication technology (ICT) applied to tax administration: e-invoicing, e-withholding tax systems, point of sale (POS) systems, and track and trace for manufacturing industry.

ESCAP says the use of these ICT tools can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of tax administration in Pakistan by enabling better monitoring and control of tax collection processes. Ultima­tely, this will result in increased revenue for the government.

The conference will discuss practical issues in the implementation of e-withholding tax system with the participation of two experts from the Austra­lian Taxation Office.

The conference will also assess capacity needs of FBR staff and current situation with particular focus on technical and human resource requirements, training and capacity-building programmes, and evaluating existing infrastructure and systems.

A rapid assessment of the country’s financial needs for the SDGs conducted by ESCAP found that enhancing tax revenues should be an important priority, as the country has a low tax-to-GDP ratio, and this hinders the country’s ability to invest in infrastructure and public services.

Therefore, improving tax compliance should be an important element of the country’s financial strategy.

The conference will address challenges in Pakistan’s tax compliance systems by leveraging ICT through the objectives of facilitating knowledge exchange on the best practices and lessons learned in implementing ICT systems such as e-invoicing, e-withholding tax systems, and POS systems for tax compliance.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2023

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