ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has termed tax collection as a key driver for economic stability, saying that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) must play a significant role in this regard.
Addressing a gathering of the FBR officials on Wednesday, the PM tasked the FBR officials to devise strategies that could restore people’s confidence in the tax machinery. He also directed the officials to enhance their performance and ensure easy tax payment system.
The PM assured that the FBR officials would be taken on board for tax reforms as “without the efficient functioning of FBR, the country could not achieve financial stability”.
He maintained that the incumbent government had inherited the biggest financial and current account deficits. Half of the tax collection, in the first year, was spent on debt servicing, he added.
He said that tax collection of up to Rs8 trillion was not difficult “if all the stakeholders consider it as their national responsibility and sacred duty”.
The PM observed that if steps for enhanced tax collection were not taken, things could get complicated in the future since revenue generation was vital for human resource development.
He cited the examples of Scandinavian countries, including Sweden and Norway, where “people pay taxes because they know that they would be spent on their welfare judiciously”.
In Pakistan, he regretted, the past rulers took it as their prerogative to spend the public tax money on their personal requirements.
“The government, after coming into power, started an austerity drive, cutting down Rs350 million (expenditures) of the PM Office,” the informed the FBR officials. “The federal government’s expenditures were slashed by Rs45 billion.”
The PM said that the government entities, including governor houses, would soon be converted into public places to further cut down the expenses. He cited the example of Governor House in Murree where a sum of Rs830 million alone was spent in the past for its renovation.
He expressed the resolve that his government would spend the public money on the welfare and uplift of the public.
“My recent visit Washington costed $65,000 as compared to previous visits by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who spent $0.8 million and 0.7 million, respectively,” the PM said. “A huge amount of Rs50 billion was spent on advertisement by the previous rulers from the public tax money.”
The prime minister also responded to various queries and suggestions by the FBR officials.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firous Ashiq Awan, Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh, FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi and Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were also present during the interaction.