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Dar directs FBR to take steps for achieving tax collection target

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  • Dar directs FBR to increase its efforts to achieve true tax potential.
  • FBR faces a revenue shortfall of Rs225 billion for December 2022.
  • Revenue shortfall will now make it hard for government to convince IMF to revive its stalled programme.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to make all possible efforts to achieve the true tax potential in the country as the body has missed the target for the outgoing month of December 2022.

The finance minister made the remarks while chairing a meeting on the revenue performance of FBR in Islamabad.

During the meeting, FBR Chairman Asim Ahmad gave a detailed presentation on revenue targets and performance of FBR for the months of November and December 2022.

It is pertinent to mention here that FBR faces a revenue shortfall of Rs225 billion for the outgoing month of December 2022; the tax collection machinery collected only Rs740 billion against the desired target of Rs965 billion.

This increased revenue shortfall will now make it hard for the government to convince the IMF to revive the stalled IMF programme without taking additional and substantial taxation measures such as a mini-budget for the current fiscal year.

The government is contemplating options for the imposition of Flood Levy in the range of 1% to 3% to fetch Rs60 billion. Other taxation measures towards direct taxation are also on the cards. But the government is in a catch-22 situation and has identified only those areas that earned lofty profits because across-the-board taxation during the time of prevalent stagflation might further erode already sluggish economic activities.

However, the FBR sources argued that the imports compression and lingering litigation in higher judiciary resulted in lowering the revenue collection target. They have conveyed to the IMF that the collection of pending revenue would be materialised till March 2023. So, the FBR’s annual target of Rs7.47 trillion would remain intact, they believe.

But independent analysts are of the view that it would be hard for the FBR to achieve the desired tax collection target of Rs7 trillion by the end of June 30, 2023. The FBR has so far collected Rs3.428 trillion in the first half (July-Dec) period of the current fiscal year against the desired target of Rs3.673 trillion. The FBR collected Rs2.9 trillion in the same period (July-Dec) of the last financial year 2021-22.

According to the official statement, the FBR has demonstrated a remarkable revenue collection performance in the first six months of the current financial year 2022-23 and has collected Rs3,428 billion for the first six months against Rs2,929 billion collected in the corresponding period of last year depicting an increase of 17%.

The FBR collected Rs740 billion for the month of December 2022 against Rs599 billion in the same month last year, showing an impressive growth of almost 24% compared to the same month last year. This performance is despite huge import compression and zero rating on petroleum.

Direct taxes collection continues to grow at a robust pace, which has shown a growth of 66% during December 2022 compared to December 2021, a clear indicator of the policy of shifting the tax burden on the wealthy and affluent. Direct taxes collection for the first six months has also registered an unprecedented growth of 49%. This was achieved despite the fact that certain policy interventions having a revenue impact of Rs250 billion introduced through Finance Act 2022 could not be implemented as these are sub-judice in the courts. The target for the month of December was Rs965 billion, which could not be achieved due to the aforementioned reason.

The revenue collection performance is also exceptional when viewed in the context that the FBR has also issued refunds of Rs176 billion during the first half of the current financial year as against Rs149 billion during the corresponding period of last year.

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The cost of a liter of petroleum increased by much to Rs 8.14.

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Prices for gasoline and high-speed diesel were raised by the government on Monday by Rs4.53 and Rs8.14, respectively, for the upcoming two weeks.

In relation to this, the ministry of finance released a notice.

Diesel now costs Rs 290.38 per litre, while petrol is now priced at Rs 293.94 per liter following the most recent increase.

Additionally, light diesel cost Rs6.54 more per litre, to Rs174.34. A 6.69% increase in price to Rs193.8 per liter was made for kerosene oil.

The impact of the developing Middle East situation and the expanding global market are the main factors contributing to the transformation.

Before the most recent spike, the price of gasoline and HSD had risen by almost $4 and $4.50 per barrel, respectively, on the global market during the previous two weeks.

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Finance Minister Aurangzeb claims that Pakistan and the IMF are talking about a new multibillion-dollar initiative.

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The South Asian country is drawing to a close a $3 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund that lasted nine months and was intended to address a balance-of-payments crisis that had put it in danger of defaulting last summer.

Pakistan has started negotiations for a new multi-year IMF loan program for “billions” of dollars, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said in a Washington interview, with the final $1.1 billion tranche of that arrangement likely to be approved later this month.

Aurangzeb, a former banker who started his job last month, stated, “The market confidence, the market sentiment is in much, much better shape this fiscal year.”

“We really started talking with the Fund this week to get into a larger and longer program for that reason,” he continued.

A representative for the IMF informed AFP that the organization is “currently focused on the completion of the current Stand-by Agreement program,” which is a nine-month program that is expected to be finished soon.

The spokesperson went on, “The Fund staff is prepared to start initial talks on a successor program as the new government has expressed interest in a new program.”

“Third-year curriculum”
Aurangzeb’s journey to Washington will also include attendance at the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings, which begin in earnest on Tuesday and have two distinct goals: supporting the world’s most indebted countries and aiding governments in the fight against climate change.

The IMF’s revised World Economic Outlook will be released to coincide with the start of the meetings, which bring together academics, representatives from the private sector, civil society, finance and development ministries, and central bankers to debate the state of the global economy.

Allegations of election tampering plagued Pakistan’s February 2019 elections, resulting in the imprisonment and disqualification of opposition leader Imran Khan and the persecution of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The unstable alliance that surfaced, headed by Shehbaz Sharif, is currently charged with bringing about an economic recovery through the imposition of several controversial austerity measures.

Aurangzeb stated, “I do believe that we will be requesting for a three year program.” “Because in my opinion, that is what we need to help carry out the structural reform agenda.”

He went on, “I do think we’ll start getting into the contours of that discussion by the time we get to the second or third week of May.”

Keeping the US-China rivalry in check
Pakistan is in a difficult situation as the two nations have started an expensive trade war because of its strong economic ties to both China and the United States.

When asked how the Sharif government intends to handle its commercial relationships with the two largest economies in the world, Aurangzeb responded, “From our perspective it has to be a and-and discussion.”

“The United States is our biggest trading partner, and it has consistently provided us with support and assistance with our investments,” he stated. Therefore, that relationship will always be extremely important to Pakistan.

He was alluding to the nearly 1,860-mile-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was built to offer China access to the Arabian Sea, when he added, “On the other side, a lot of investment, especially in infrastructure, came through CPEC.”

According to Aurangzeb, Pakistan has a “very good opportunity” to participate in the trade war on par with nations like Vietnam, whose exports to the US have increased significantly as a result of tariffs placed on some Chinese items.

He stated, “We already have a few examples of that working.” “However, we must truly scale it up.”

reform initiative

Pakistan is currently engaged in a privatization campaign to sell off its underperforming state-owned businesses (SOEs) as part of the structural reform package agreed upon by the previous government.

The nation’s flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, is the first SOE on the list.

In regards to potential bidder interest, Aurangzeb stated, “we will find out in the next month or so.”

He said, “Our goal is to proceed with that privatization and see it through to completion by the end of June.”

Other businesses may soon follow if the government’s privatization of the PIA proceeds smoothly.

He declared, “We’re building a whole pipeline,” and added, “We want to really accelerate that over the next couple of years.”

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Owners of oil tankers stop the provision of fuel in favour of their demands.

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The Association declared on Monday that, in response to what it deemed to be an “unfair” measurement by the relevant authorities, gasoline delivery will stay suspended as of Tuesday.

According to the Oil Tankers Owners’ Association, they attempted to resolve their complaints with Deputy Commissioner Islamabad and Pakistan State Oil (PSO), but to no effect.

The Oil Tankers Owners Association has yelled slogans in support of their demand while parking their containers in the PSO depot.

The owners of oil tankers declared that they would not end their strike until their demands were met, accusing the administration of being to blame for the fuel crisis.

The association requested that the authorities abide by their requests, which included filling under a metered system. It further stated that the deal reached on February 20 had been broken by the authorities.

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