Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin has said that all currently issued notices will be withdrawn to put an end to the harassment and corruption.

In a visit to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI), he said from now onwards, notices will be issued by third party auditors after due diligence. “We will be moving in the direction of self-assessment,” he said while talking to the media, adding, “We want to adopt a progressive tax system.” The minister said, “There are only two taxes in the world: income tax and consumption tax, there is no third tax. We have invented the rest of the taxes.”

On the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, Tarin said that the approach may be different but the destination of the government and IMF is the same, which is a stable economy. Earlier in a meeting with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail at the Governor House, the minister said the economy of the country was heading in the right direction and the international organisations were acknowledging Pakistan’s economic development, according to a news release.

He said increasing the exports of the country was the top most priority of government. The governor, on the occasion, said that the initiatives of the finance ministry for protection of small and large scale businesses during the outbreak of the pandemic and Roshan Digital Accounts for overseas Pakistanis were commendable.

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He said the rise in foreign exchange reserves was an expression of confidence of overseas Pakistanis in the government’s economic policies. Ismail said that ease of doing business and providing facilities to investors were among the priorities of the federal government.

Member National Assembly Aftab Hussain Siddiqui also attended the meeting that discussed in detail the overall economic situation of the country. Tarin informed the businesses community that an FPCCI nominee will be inducted into all decision-making committees and boards of the federal ministries; including, Privatisation Commission and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as the government realises FPCCI’s role as the apex body and its active participation is warranted in all policymaking forums.

The finance minister said he will consult the trade body every quarter from now onwards to resolve issues facing businessmen efficiently and restore their confidence to promote private sector investments. He also announced that the FBR will set up a help desk at FPCCI Head Office to facilitate resolution of discrepancies and issues in tax procedures. Speaking on the occasion, FPCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzeb Akram said, “Despite repeated promises by the government, the businessmen’s recommendations and proposals were ignored in budget and policymaking.”

The business apex body does not propose anything for personal gains of office bearers; instead all recommendations are derived from a regular process of obtaining feedback from the business, industry and trade community of Pakistan. Addressing the concern, Tarin said that he will make sure that this concern is addressed in his quarterly meetings with FPCCI.

Akram also raised the issue of no respite to common man due to inflation that continues to remain at a very high level of 13% despite incessant hue and cry from all stakeholders. He added that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) should bring down the policy interest rate to provide some breathing space to businessmen of the country. Responding to this, Tarin said that SBP is autonomous and he cannot dictate them on policy rate.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2021.

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