ISLAMABAD, Nov 23 : Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday describing taxes vital for country’s economic stability and survival hoped that the use of technology will help check tax-pilferage and take revenue collection to the tune of Rs. 8000 billion per annum.
“Our biggest issue is that we have to take loans to run the country. Countries cannot be run without taxes. We have our stability at stake,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister expressed these views at the launching ceremony of the first-ever track and trace system introduced by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
He congratulated Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tarin, FBR and other relevant institutions for introducing the technology based system for which the efforts were being done since 2008.
The Prime Minister said that the introduction of track and trace system was a big and positive achievement, which will have far-reaching impact.
According to details, the FBR’s track and trace system will ensure electronic monitoring of the production and sale of important sectors like tobacco, fertilizer, sugar and cement.
With the electronic monitoring of goods’ movement from production to the use of consumers, the track and trace system besides increasing country’s revenue will also help ensure transparency and check the pilferage of taxes.
After the implementation of track and trace system in tobacco sector, the FBR was now going to introduce this system in sugar sector, which will follow the implementation of electric monitoring of other sectors as well.
Under the new system, no sugar bag can be taken out of the production site, factory and manufacturing plant without stamp and individual identity mark. The FBR was also planning to implement the new system in beverages and petroleum sectors.
The Prime Minister said that with a reasonable tax-to-GDP ratio in the West and highest in Scandinavian countries, Pakistan could not promote the tax culture due to different reasons including the aristocratic lifestyle of the ruling elite in the past, which shattered the confidence of taxpayers in governments.
The practice of not paying due taxes was continuing since the colonial era, when people used to think that their hard-earned money was being taken out by the foreign rulers and they were not being provided basic facilities, he remarked.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that contrary to the aristocratic lifestyle of ruling elite in our country, government ministers in the West including UK, which had 50 times more income [revenue] than Pakistan’s were reminded by people, if they ever indulge in high expenditures, that they were using public money.
“When government ministers in UK, a country of 60 million people and having 50 times more income than Pakistan, travel abroad, use economy class if the flight time is less than five hours,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister further said that as against the practice of Pakistani leaders in the past who used to spend ten times extra public money on foreign trips, the prime minister of UK preferred to stay in UK Embassy in the United States to save his country’s tax money.
He said that it was why, the country’s debt swelled from Rs. 6000 billion to Rs. 30000 billion in the ten years period [2008-18] of previous governments despite the fact that there was not a single mega development project or any dam.
The Prime Minister congratulated the FBR for the record revenue collection so far and hoped that the country will realize the tax collection of Rs. 6000 billion.
He, however, added that this revenue collection was not enough for providing basic facilities to 220 million people including in the areas of health and education because the government has to spend Rs. 3000 billion for debt-servicing of the loans taken by the previous governments.
The Prime Minister described FBR’s track and trace system as a big step forward and said that the use of technology in tax collection system will enhance revenue collection and check tax pilferage.
He recalled that with the automation in Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Lahore, 22 years back, the institution was made paperless, ensuring transparency.
The Prime Minister hoped that with the automation in FBR and reduction in contact between the taxpayers and collectors, Pakistan will achieve the revenue collection of Rs. 8000 billion per annum.
Describing the role of FBR as critical, he said, the country’s economic survival and security depended on enhanced revenue collection.
The Prime Minister said that with 65% of the country’s population comprising of youth less than the age of 30 years, it was an asset for Pakistan.
He said that the people of Pakistan very generously give money for charity but hesitate to pay taxes due to lack of trust in governments. “When we will spend on people, they will trust the government and system,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister said there was a need to make people realize that paying taxes was linked with the prosperity and future of the country, nation and their children.
“FBR has to give this confidence to the masses that their taxes will be spent on their welfare. I will personally monitor the results of this track and trace system and that how much revenue is increased due to this system,” he remarked.
Earlier, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tarin in his remarks on the occasion said that the track and trace system was being introduced on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan to enhance revenue collection and ensure transparency.
He said it was a difficult task but was made possible due to efforts of FBR officials and the cooperation of relevant sectors and stakeholders.
With the inclusion of four sectors including tobacco, fertilizers, sugar and cement in the track and trace system, another four sectors will be added in the system, he pointed out.
The Advisor on Finance further said that with the current figure of 3 million active taxpayers, out of which only one million originally pay taxes, work was also in progress for the broadening of tax-net up to 15 million with the use of technology in cooperation with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
Besides, he said, that in the retail sector FBR machines were being installed at various points across the country to capture the true potential of sales tax. He, however, made it clear that small traders will be placed in fixed tax category.
Shaukat Tarin further said that world class facility of a single-window system will be introduced in customs and trade sectors, which will put Pakistan in top ten countries of the world in tax-automation by 2024.