Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday expressed hope that through the use of technology the government will be able to check tax-pilferage and take revenue collection to the tune of Rs. 8000 billion per annum. He added that taxes are crucial for Pakistan’s survival and economic stability.
PM Khan said, “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 shared these views during the launching ceremony of the first-ever track and trace system introduced by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
While congratulating the advisor on finance Shaukat Tarin, FBR, and other relevant institutions for installing the technology-based system, PM Khan said that this was a huge positive step that will have a far-reaching impact.
Efforts were being made to introduce this technology since 2008.
According to reports, the FBR’s track and trace system will carry out electronic monitoring of the production and sale of important sectors like tobacco, fertilizer, sugar, and cement.
The movement of goods from production to the end consumers will be monitored via the track and trace system which will also increase the country’s revenue and ensure transparency.
Following the implementation of the new system in the tobacco sector, the FBR is now going to introduce it in the sugar sector, and later to other sectors too.
With the new system in place, no sugar bag can be removed from the production site, factory or manufacturing plant without a stamp and individual identity mark. The FBR is also planning to implement the new system in the beverages and petroleum sectors.
The PM said that with a reasonable tax-to-GDP ratio in the West and highest in Scandinavian countries, Pakistan could not promote the tax culture owing to various reasons such as the aristocratic lifestyle of the ruling elite in the past, which has shattered the confidence of taxpayers in their governments.
He further said that the practice of not paying due taxes has continued since the colonial era when people used to believe that their hard-earned money was being taken out by the foreign rulers and they were not being provided basic facilities.
He added that contrary to the aristocratic lifestyle of the ruling elite in Pakistan, government ministers in the West including the UK, which had 50 times more income [revenue] than Pakistan’s were reminded by their people, if they ever indulge in high expenditures, that they were using public’s money.
PM remarked, “When government ministers in the 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”.
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 the UK preferred to stay in UK Embassy in the United States to save his country’s tax money.
He said that this was the reason behind the swelling of Pakistan’s debt from Rs. 6000 billion to Rs. 30000 billion in the ten-year period between 2008 to 2018, 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 said he hoped that the country will realize the tax collection of Rs. 6000 billion.
He also added that this revenue collection was insufficient for providing basic facilities to 220 million people in areas such as health and education as the government has to spend Rs. 3000 billion for debt-servicing of the loans taken by the previous governments.
He said that Pakistanis were very generous when it comes to giving money for charity but hesitate to pay taxes owing to a lack of trust in governments. He said, “When we will spend on people, they will trust the government and system,” he remarked.
He further added, “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”.
The advisor on finance Shaukat Tarin 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).
Tarin added 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 the fixed tax category.
Shaukat Tarin further shared that a world-class facility of a single-window system is going to be introduced in customs and trade sectors, which will help place Pakistan in the top ten countries of the world in tax automation by 2024.