By Our Staff Reporter
Published Date: Oct 8, 2016
ISLAMABAD: It is not correct that the agriculture sector is not taxable and the provinces are responsible for not collecting these taxes and executing their responsibility, said former finance minister and PPP MNA Syed Naveed Qamar on Friday.
Speaking at a discussion titled ‘Foster Public-Private Dialogue for Economic Reforms’, Mr Qamar said it is time to shift the burden of taxes on “captive” tax payers including the salaried class and low income consumers who suffer from the impacts of indirect taxation.
The discussion was hosted by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and the Centre for International Private Enterprise as part of a series of discussions between the private sector and political leadership for economic reforms.
The PPP MNA said the provinces should play a more proactive role in collecting taxes.
He also called the policies of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar as “accountant-thought” and said that instead of Dar’s policies, the country’s tax collection mechanism can be improved via more forward-looking policies.
Highlighting the need for dialogue in this regard, CRSS Executive Director Imtiaz Gil said that the discussion is aimed at generating critical feedback on the economic manifestos of participating political parties.
He said that the series of dialogues was being held in order to provide the private sector with a platform to discuss economic issues and the challenges
to economic growth with political representatives and to seek solutions to them.
While most of the participants from the private sector said the current taxation regime was “obstructive and extremely regressive”, they said there was a need to grant the Federal Bureau of Revenue autonomy and for bringing transparency to the tax collecting body.
“Heavy taxation raises the cost of doing business in Pakistan instead of creating job opportunities,” said Kashif Shabir, former President Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He added that there should also be some benefits from the state to tax payers.
ANP leaders, Senator Afrasiab Khattak and Bushra Gohar agreed that policies are made for the private sector without taking them on board and that the lack of political will was also the major reason for the lack of an equitable taxation system.
Sustainable Development Policy Institute Deputy Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said taxes should not be looked at as just a means to run the government.
“After the 18th Amendment, GST on services is now a provincial subject and the necessary measures required to collect the due GSTS will now depend on the political will and administrative capacity of each of the provinces, when there is weak audit and enforcement capacity,” he added.
He said that it was difficult to collect taxes due to the vast number of exemptions, concessions and preferential treatment to select sub-sectors in various industries.
Winding up the discussion, Mr Imtiaz Gul said that the discussion is not just a one-off session and that the dialogue process will continue as a long term intervention on economic reforms in Pakistan.