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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Mar 5, 2015

Another persistent issue Years on, experts still lament taxation system

ISLAMABAD: Tax collection is the most important issue that has plagued the country’s economy for decades.

Years of inadequate collection has resulted in deficit after deficit
with steps to improve the country’s tax machinery yielding little

One of the issues deals with how collection is estimated and revised
as the fiscal year goes by.  Tax Reform Commission of Pakistan Chairman
Masoud Naqvi said Pakistan should abolish the collection of advance
taxes as well as withholding of tax refunds for a year, which may result
in fiscal deficit but would give a “realistic assessment of revenue
collection capacity”.


He was addressing the National Tax Summit jointly organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Oxfam.

Naqvi suggested that Pakistan should adopt major structural and
policy reforms for improving tax collection, which has regressed over
the last few years.

“It is a pity that the Property Development Authority of Dubai has
provided Pakistan the list of Pakistani investors, but the government
has not raised any tax demand on them. Whereas, in India, a stringent
law has been passed and action on ground is being taken.”

He explained that, due to complications in establishing multiple
sales tax rates, the government is looking forward to giving a single
rate this year, on which consultation with stakeholders is ongoing.  He
said the tax on property is the most neglected area, which should be
handled properly.  Former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha said the
Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collected at least 38% less than what was
actually needed in the last two years. “Growth in domestic sales tax
has gone negative in recent months.”

Earlier, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, in his
introduction, asked if the country would move towards progressive
taxation or the regressive trend will continue. He said another
important aim was to define a balance between direct and indirect
taxes.  Additionally, he spurred discussion on the role of provinces in
sharing tax burden.

SDPI Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed highlighted that
provinces raise only 6.5% of the total tax revenue. “Tax administration
machinery has a fragmented structure that promotes friction between
provincial and federal tax collectors.”

He proposed that base line of untapped revenue in agriculture;
services and property should be established to improve the situation.
“Provincial authorities should restrain from giving preferential
treatment through SROs and other concessions.”

Senior Economist Dr Akmal Hussain proposed that it is about time that
a universal social security cover is given to the population. He said
countries adopted the scheme even at a time when their economic
situation was worse than that of Pakistan.

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