KARACHI: Tax evaders can no longer hide as the government is going to introduce stricter laws, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar warned the business community on Friday.
He was speaking at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) where a large number of industrialists and business leaders were present.
Mr Dar snubbed a request made by FPCCI President Zubair Tufail for launching a tax amnesty scheme before the next budget, and said the government was preparing stringent laws to hunt for those funds against which tax had been evaded.
When the present government came to power in 2013, it initiated talks with the Swiss government and reached an understanding for the exchange of information on funds parked in Swiss banks, he said.
Similarly in January 2014, the government located another Paris-based forum having more than 100 members and it was agreed that the two sides would exchange information related to tax-evaded and hidden funds.
He reminded the business community that the government in July 2016 through the Finance Bill had already made necessary changes wherein such cases could be handled and concealed wealth could be traced.
Under the fourth Global Summit against corruption, Pakistan has already met 15 requirements out of a total number of 16 clauses. After this, audit parameters have totally changed even in Pakistan.
Mr Dar also touched on how the government has increased power generation to limit load-shedding. The minister did not agree with the FPCCI president that most of the power projects were being undertaken under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as out of the expected addition of 25,000-megawatt power projects, only 5,000MW were being built under CPEC while the rest were being funded by Pakistan from its own resources. He hoped there would no load-shedding by March 2018.
Mr Dar also criticised those who talk about high debt. He said the $57 billion foreign debts were safe because after deducting $18bn foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank, there was $39bn debt which was four per cent of the gross domestic product.
Hasan Mansoor adds: Mr Dar also met Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Friday. Mr Shah stressed that at-source deductions by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) from the account of the provincial government in the head of sales tax was unjustified.
He said the FBR had directly withdrawn Rs4 billion from the Sindh government’s account last year against the assumed payment of sales tax.
“These figures must be reconciled before putting a hard hand on the account of Sindh government,” he said. The FBR has again deducted Rs4 million from the Sindh government’s account this year, he said.
According to a government spokesperson, Mr Dar assured the chief minister that he would direct the FBR to have a meeting with provincial
secretary finance to reconcile the amount. “The FBR would return the amount if it has withdrawn above the actual estimates.”