Finmin asks businesses to end bribery, pay taxes

Published July 7, 2024
Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb talks to the media after a meeting with the business community
in Lahore on Saturday.—APP
Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb talks to the media after a meeting with the business community in Lahore on Saturday.—APP

LAHORE: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb urged the business community to stop offering “speedy money” (bribes) to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officers and instead pay their taxes to support the country during its economic challenges.

“I have learned that FBR officers are being offered 5 to 6 per cent to evade the actual total tax,” Mr Aurangzeb said at a post-budget interactive session organised by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Saturday.

“I ask you to stop entertaining FBR officials. We need to work together for this country and take the necessary steps to reform the FBR,” he added.

“Until when will we continue this practice? Please stop and think about the country,” he said, highlighting that FBR enforcement through end-to-end digitisation was underway to prevent such leakages.

Mr Aurangzeb welcomed constructive criticism of government spending and acknowledged the need to curtail daily expenses.

Aurangzeb welcomes constructive criticism of govt spending, admits need to curtail daily expenses

He mentioned ongoing efforts to shut down or merge ministries whose responsibilities have been devolved to the provinces, with an announcement from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expected soon.

“We have also reduced our Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and introduced measures to prevent pension leakages,” he noted.

Mr Aurangzeb emphasised the collective support from stakeholders to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio to 13pc within the next three years. However, he expressed frustration over the reluctance of sectors to comply when tax collection efforts began. “Everyone says, ‘Don’t come to our backyard.’ How can we achieve this goal in such a situation?” he questioned.

He stressed that for Pakistan to avoid future IMF programmes, everyone must prioritise the country’s interests. Reflecting on past policies, he explained, “We implemented a growth-led budget three years ago, but as an import-led economy, we pursued dollars and ended up negotiating another IMF programme under tougher conditions.”

The minister urged the business community to support the government’s efforts if they want Pakistan to escape IMF dependence in the future.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2024

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