ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Finance, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan Thursday said the government was devising a strategy to go after the tax-evaders and initially 10,000 people have been identified on the basis of data which would be brought under tax net from next month.
These potential taxpayers have been identified in different fields including education, property and other services sectors, Rana Afzal said in his first-ever interaction with a group of media persons after assuming the charges of State Minister for Finance. He said that on the basis of data obtained by the government, first batch of 10,000 potential taxpayers would be served notices in the beginning of next month (January).
The minister said that in order to broaden tax net, an amnesty scheme was also under consideration to facilitate Pakistanis bring back their money from abroad. However, he was of the view that this scheme would be executed after thorough consideration.
The minister said that the recently imposed Regulatory Duty (RD) on various importing items by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would begin showing its positive effects on revenue collection soon. He said that the number of tax return filers has also increased from 0.914 million last year to 1.14 million during the current year (2017-18), which is a positive sign.
Talking about the performance of economy, the minister said that the country was well in position to achieve 5.8 percent GDP growth easily and expressed the hope that the target of 6 percent was also achievable.
The minister was of the view that the budget deficit would be contained at 5 percent although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted its upward growth. He said of the view that there was some lack in fiscal performance during the initial months, however expected that the things would be go better now.
To a question on external side, the minister said the country had to pay back $6 billion before June 30 and the government was working on many strategies to meet its expenses, which include borrowings and reducing expenditures.
He categorically stated that the government had no plan to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package, adding that the government had a plan which would be executed to meet the expenses. He however was of the view that there were many sectors of economy which had been performing well, citing the example of remittances and impressive growth in Large Sector Manufacturing sector.
The minister was of the view that the budget for the upcoming financial year 2018-19 should be presented by the incumbent government as it would be in better position to manage it, however opined that if there was any legal obligations that should be addressed first. He said that it would be very difficult for the interim government to present the national budget for the upcoming fiscal year as it would have very little time to prepare for the presentation.
To a question about imports, the minister said that although there had been increase in import bill, but these were industry-oriented imports, which would help development of the country in the long-run. He said that due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Foreign Direct Investment into the country has increased.
To a question on increasing oil prices, he said that due to harsh winter, the fuel consumption in Europe has increased leading to oil price hike, adding that the oil rates would come down once winter season is over.
The minister also stressed the need for removing the impediments that have been resulting in reduced exports to neghbouring Afghanistan. NNI