ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday directed the authorities concerned to formulate proposals for reducing government expenditures and overhauling the country’s economic structure.

He also directed the authorities to immediately initiate the process of complete digitisation and automation of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which he himself would oversee.

Presiding over a high-level meeting at the Prime Minister House, PM Sharif said that the world’s best model should be adopted for the digitisation of FBR to ensure transparency in its system, increase tax collection, halt tax evasion, corruption and smuggling, and also to bring convenience to the general public and the business community.

The large taxpayers and the best-performing officers of the FBR would be encouraged and the black sheep would be brought to justice, he added.

Orders immediate digitisation and automation of FBR

FBR Chairman Malik Amjed Zubair Tiwana briefed the meeting on the steps taken to enhance tax collection; refunds’ payment to the exporters; expanding the tax net; automation process; stopping tax evasion, institutional corruption and smuggling; and provision of quality services to the people.

The FBR chairman said that during this financial year, they are working on the target of bringing 1.5 million more taxpayers into the tax net.

Mr Tiwana informed the prime minister about the caretaker finance minister’s reforms project of the FBR administration.

According to a source, Mr Sharif was informed that during the first eight months of FY24, the FBR collected Rs5.831 trillion, exceeding the Rs5.829tr target by Rs2bn. The government has projected a revenue collection target of Rs9.415tr for FY24 as against the revised collection of Rs7.2tr in FY23, an increase of 30 per cent.

The meeting was further informed that FBR is on target and revenue collection will improve further in the coming months in the wake of an increase in the import bill.

The prime minister directed immediate initiation of the process of complete digitisation and automation of the FBR as per the international standards.

“We should go ahead by learning lessons from the past as nothing can be changed by merely lamenting the mistakes. We have to take up the challenge and find a way out to steer the country out of the debt trap,” he said.

He said that the country had no dearth of capable people. “If we start our journey now, we can ultimately achieve the goal of prosperity and development.”

PM Sharif announced that efficient, honest and professional officers would be rewarded.

He also directed that efficient officers be deployed in the track and trace system.

He said the Ministry of Interior would work with full force to stop smuggling.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2024

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