ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government has decided that it would not constitute the new National Finance Commission Award on the basis of provisional results of the population census.

“The next government will constitute the fresh revenue-sharing formula between the centre and provinces on the basis of fresh population census results,” said Rana Afzal Khan, Minister of State for Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in an interview with The Nation on Wednesday.

He further said that the government could not use the provisional results of the population census for constituting a fresh revenue-sharing formula between centre and provinces. “Final results of the population census are expected in April this year, which will be used for the next NFC award,” he remarked.

The five-year constitutional term of the arrangement of 7th NFC award had expired on June 30, 2015. The government for the consecutive third year had extended the seventh award for the ongoing financial year 2017-18 after failing to constitute new NFC award.

The minister that the government is negotiating with Etisalat for recovering pending $800 million against the privatisation of 26 per cent shares of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). “The government is engaged to make a way forward and materialise maximum of the outstanding amount,” he added.

Afzal said that the government has started issuing notices to 10,000 potential taxpayers to bring them into tax net. The Federal Board of Revenue has identified the potential taxpayers by reviewing record of different fields, including education, property and other services sectors. “Pakistan can increase its tax to GDP to 25 per cent from existing 12-13 per cent as per study of the World Bank,” he said and added that the government would launch a plan to broaden the tax net after winning next general elections.

To a question about the United States might slap sanctions on Pakistan, the minister said: “It will land Pakistan in trouble but we should be prepared for every eventuality”.  He reiterated that the PML-N government would present the next budget for the upcoming year 2018-19, which would be 6th budget of the incumbent government in its five years constitutional tenure. It is the right of the democratic government to present the budget, as an interim government could not present the budget as per its mandate.

Rana Afzal defended the government’s policy of taking loans. He said that foreign debt increased to $67 billion at the time when Pakistan’s overall GDP’s size has gone to $340 to $350 billion.

To a question, he informed, there is no development in the proposed offshore tax amnesty scheme for those who held assets abroad to bring back their wealth.  He hoped that the FBR would achieve the tax collection target of Rs4 trillion. During first half of the current financial year, the FBR has recorded provisional net revenue collection of over Rs1722 billion as against Rs1,466 billion collected during the same period of the previous fiscal year by recording an increase of around 17.5 per cent over the revenue collected during the corresponding period of last fiscal year.