ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said on Tuesday that a list of 700,000 rich persons had been prepared by the Federal Board of Revenue and they would be pursued for recovery of taxes.
“These people own properties and make frequent visits abroad but they do not pay due taxes,” Mr Hafeez lamented. Speaking at the inauguration of 27th conference of Pakistan Society of Development Economists, Dr Hafeez called upon the affluent
people to come forward and pay taxes.
He said that powerful lobbies oppose government’s efforts to introduce value-added tax through legislation.
However he added that reforms being initiated in the FBR were producing positive results and tax collections were are on the rise.
The three-day conference is being organised by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).
He said that the government inherited a weak economy which was primarily a consequence of various factors, such as high fiscal deficit, which resulted from high security spending and rising international oil prices.
The minister said as a result of prudent economic reforms of the government, taxes worth Rs640 billion have been collected in the five months of the current fiscal year which is 28 per cent higher than the last fiscal year.
He added that the FBR also paid refund of Rs27 billion to taxpayers in 2010 while in 2011, Rs52 billion had been refunded to them.
He, however, added that the government abolished zero-rating facilities for self-reliance and removed all sales tax exemptions on various sectors, including food, health and education.
He further said that last year’s GDP growth had been estimated at 4.6 per cent, but due to floods and other shocks, it could not cross 2.6 per cent.
The minister said that difficulties were being faced in managing inflation, which was now hovering around 12-13 per cent.
“But there are signs of downward trend in inflation in the last five months. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has been very helpful in resolving the stuck-up cases of taxes and increasing revenues by Rs100 billion,” Dr Shaikh said.
Due to high fiscal deficit of over six per cent of the GDP, which increased because of higher security spending and rise in international oil prices in the last three years, non-development expenditures have been kept at a freeze.
The government allocated additional Rs800 billion to provinces and their share in total revenue was now 60 per cent whereas Balochistan had been given 110 per cent additional resources.
“Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata will also get more resources and for the development of higher education, HEC has been given Rs40 billion,” he added.
Earlier, PIDE chairman Dr Rashid Amjad said despite many setbacks, Pakistan’s economy had shown great resilience, which was evident from the fact that it had maintained a respectable growth rate for over 60 years.
“It has shown the ability to bounce back to its trend growth rate despite many setbacks,” he added.
However, Pakistan’s economy needs new direction, which has been emphasised in the New Growth Framework, formulated by the Planning Commission of Pakistan, he said.
Later in the day, 12 papers were presented in the technical sessions on topics, including growth and entrepreneurship, exchange rate dynamics and environmental and energy.
Source: Dawn News