KARACHI: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has criticised the country’s tax authorities for having a “reputation for corruption”, calling it the main reason why citizens don’t want to deal with it.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he was critical of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), saying: “People don’t want to deal with the tax authority because of corruption, because of harassment, because of people asking for speed money, facilitation money.”

He also warned that the forthcoming IMF bailout “will not be our last” if the government fails to significantly boost tax revenue, adding: “We do not have five years for our programme… We have to start showing, start delivering, in the next two to three months.”

Mr Aurangzeb told Financial Times he was “relatively confident” of reaching a staff-level agreement with the IMF this month, adding that the direction of travel is positive, and investors are showing confidence in the stock market.

However, he stressed the need for sustainability, arguing for creating the capacity to repay loans.

“As long as this economy stays import-based, what happens is the moment it heats up . . . we run out of dollars [and] we have to go back to the lender of last resort on our knees,” he said.

Talking about the government’s campaign to attract international investment, he said: “It’s about time we get real.”

“The ball is in our court to provide bankable, investable projects,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2024

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