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The Express Tribune

Published Date: May 12, 2016

Focus needs to be on progressive taxation

The federal government should introduce progressive taxation and minimise reliance on regressive and anti-poor withholding taxes, said Sustainable Development Policy Institute Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed.
Speaking at a ‘Public Hearing on Annual Budget 2016-17’ organised by the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Affairs, he said specific measures needed for moving towards ‘progressive taxation’ including taxation on foreign income and capital gains tax on real estate and securities along with reduction in exemptions and concessions on direct tax.
“It is important to bring reforms in the indirect tax system, particularly in the GST regime.”
Underlining issues with the current GST regime, which comprised of input invoicing, high cost of compliance and audit and backlog of GST refunds, he said, “Due to  high GST and other taxes on petroleum products, the full benefit of  low international oil prices was not transferred to the end consumers.”
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Moreover, he said the tax administration reforms were also important in bringing down the cost of doing business. “It can be done by filing a joint return for both federal and provincial taxes levied on the same source of income, simplifying the filing and documentation of GST, creating a special cell for expediting payment of refunds and updating Sales Tax Act 1990, which could incorporate all amendments that are to be retained.
“Finally, it is important to note that in a bid to raise revenues, the government has also taxed the welfare and non-profit organisations,” he said, adding that those organisations were working towards a non-profit motive, with a view to helping the poor communities.
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Also present on the occasion, the National Assembly Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs Statistics and Privatisation Chairperson Senator Saleem Mandviwalla stated that budgeting was a mere exercise in Pakistan. “Such seminars should be organised frequently to increase public understanding on the topic of taxation.