Finance Minister Asad Umar hints at further economic and taxation Reforms in country
LAHORE - Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Asad Umar on Monday expressed the resolve to simplify the taxation system to facilitate the taxpayers especially the business community at large. He was talking to businessmen and office-bearers of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) here at Federation's Regional Office. State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Jahanzeb Khan also accompanied the Federal Finance Minister. FPCCI President Daroo Khan Achakzai, FPCCI Regional Chairman and Vice President Abdul Rauf Mukhtar, Vice President Shireen Arshad Khan and other prominent businessmen also shared their views. The finance minister added that simple mechanism for tax returns and sales tax was need of the hour to restore confidence of the industrialists and businessmen. He assured that new and trouble-free system for tax return would be put in place during the current year. He, however, stressed the need for implementation of an effective tax audit system that would not only control tax evasion but also help real collection of tax revenues. Asad Umar informed the business community that Federal Board of Revenue had also been directed to organize an event for the top taxpayers to acknowledge their contribution in the national development. Regarding electricity system, the finance minister was of the view that the old system of power distribution and tariff would have to be deregulated, and new rules and regulations in this regard would have to be formulated and implemented. Finance minister appreciated the FPCCI's idea of establishing Cottage Industrial Estate and said that he would recommend it, while the relevant provincial government would also be taken on board. Small industrial units played pivotal role in creation of new employment opportunities as well as work as prove catalyst for the economic development of the country, he opined. Asad Umar said that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were indispensable to attract local and foreign investments into Pakistan, asserting that though new SEZs would be established under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the fully activation and facilitation of the existing ones were of great importance for jacking up the country's exports. Establishment of SEZs was a priority agenda item of the present government and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) would soon be put in order, he maintained. Business community should take over the operations of the industrial estates and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), he asserted. Federal Finance Minister said that surplus wheat in the country should be exported but after its value addition. He said that cotton was the backbone of Pakistan's economy, therefore, a comprehensive strategy would be chalked out in 2019 by taking all the stakeholders aboard. Finance Supplementary (2nd Amendment) Bill 2019 would definitely facilitate the 51 percent of the population (womenfolk) as steps to be taken through this bill would enable women entrepreneurs to start or expand their businesses easily and also facilitate the working/jobber women. On this occasion, FPCCI President Daroo Khan Achakzai said that measures announced in the bill were realistic and growth-oriented with emphasis on growth in exports and revival of economy. "The thrust of this bill is to alter the direction of the economy from trading and services to industry and manufacturing with a focus on ease of doing business in the country," he added. He also expressed his gratitude and thanks to the Finance Minister for incorporating most of the FPCCI proposals, which had since long been advocated by it.