On Pakistan News
Published Date: Apr 18, 2014
SDPI Releases Pre-budget Survey on Economic Reforms
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) released a
nationally representative survey on economic reforms here on Friday. The
survey highlights that two immediate reforms needed to kickstart
economic growth and create jobs will be: a) tax reforms – to finance
growing government expenditure; and b) energy reforms to support private
sectors pursuit for growth, competitiveness and market access, says a
It has been noted that the downward revision in the tax collection
targets should be a concern for the economic managers who are already
sacrificing expenditures towards poverty reduction, education and health
due to increased spending on law and order. Similarly on the energy
front even before the start of full-blown summer months, industry is
facing 12 hours of power shortages.
The survey reviewed that 68% respondents think that the tax system in
Pakistan is neither fair nor transparent. 91% tax payers believe that
their tax contributions are not effectively utilized for redistribution
and welfare of the poorest. Among the informal enterprises (implying
unregistered business firms), 57% stated that no incentive scheme will
compel them to register with the tax authorities.
They also feel that the only way government achieves a higher income
tax is by burdening existing tax payers and there are no serious efforts
in widening the tax base. Sectors such as agriculture and services
continue to be exempted from the tax net. 47% of tax payers feel that
the filing of returns is a complex process and needs simplification.
They also complained about problems with the web portals maintained by
FBR for filing returns. 71% respondents felt that GST rates were too
high and non-responsive to economic growth and inflationary pressures
faced by the medium and low income groups.
Commenting on the survey results Dr. Musaddiq Malik, Advisor to Prime
Minister on Water and Power had noted that efficient and economical
production of electricity can be helped through optimal energy mix,
stopping leakages and theft, increased domestic and foreign investment
in energy, reduced cost of distribution, and elimination of cross and
hidden subsidies. Dr. Kaiser Bengali, Advisor to Chief Minister
Balochistan also explained that half of the trade deficit is due to
energy related imports, which can be reduced by decreasing the share of
energy in total imports.
The survey recommends that tax authorities in Pakistan need to design
better and improved systems of communications and outreach in order to
bridge the trust deficit and enhance public understanding of taxation
mechanisms and procedures. There is also a need for increase in
taxpayers facilitation units given the increase in the number of firms
registered with the SECP. Documentation on corporate taxes needs to be
simplified further, while there needs to be a strategy for transition to
Value Added Taxation. Concrete efforts should be made to curb tax
evasion and elimination of SRO regime that allows exemptions.