Hafeez Shaikh addresses int’l forum, seeks cross-border assistance in tax recovery

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Wednesday that Pakistan was among the few developing countries to adopt common reporting standards (CRS), as it had already started exchanging data with partner jurisdictions.

He stated this while addressing the Plenary Meeting of the Global Forum on “Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes 2020”, organized by OECD.

The adviser said that Pakistan has achieved important milestones in transparency and exchange of information and appreciated the technical support extended by the global forum and the UK government, which was instrumental in implementing the CRS.

Hafeez Shaikh outlined that tax transparency and exchange of information were powerful tools to enhance tax compliance. “Pakistan is firmly committed to fighting tax evasion and other illicit financial flows and need more international cooperation for cross-border assistance in tax recovery,” he stressed.

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The adviser also briefed the forum about the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic and measures taken by the government to mitigate the sufferings of vulnerable groups.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, he said, the government had introduced ‘smart lockdowns’ to contain the spread of the disease while keeping the economy moving. “The smart lockdown approach was acknowledged worldwide as it allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact during testing times.”

In addition, he said, the government also handed out cash stipends to 15 million families under “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Payments”.

“Amid Covid-19, the government took several initiatives to accelerate economic recovery. A relief package for small & medium enterprises (SMEs) shielded against insolvency and joblessness. Similarly, a special package was announced to boost the construction sector which included an amnesty scheme, tax exemptions, and a Rs33 billion subsidy to stimulate economic growth.”

He said that Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and foreign direct investment during the first quarter of FY21.

“The government is firmly committed to correcting fundamentals of the economy through effective policymaking and targeted reforms. The end goal is to achieve sustainable economic growth,” he concluded.

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