ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on Thursday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to undertake all necessary efforts to meet the tax revenue target for the current fiscal year.

He made these remarks at a meeting on matters pertaining to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). He encouraged FBR to ensure that all stakeholders are actively engaged and consulted in the preparation process for the budget. He said that effective measures against tax evasion and for promotion of tax culture would further strengthen revenue generation which is vital for achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country.

Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, provided an update to the Minister on preparations for the upcoming budget for FY 2017-18. He said that pursuant to the Minister’s instructions, the exercise to obtain views of business and traders’ community, chambers of commerce and industries, economic experts and other stakeholders was being actively undertaken. He said that FBR was making all out efforts to pursue the tax revenue targets for this fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue showed concern over massive shortfall in tax collection during first eight months of the ongoing financial year. The committee members noted that the government could not achieve the tax collection target during ongoing financial year.

Committee member Asad Umar said that tax collection shortfall had reached Rs180 billion during July-February period of the year 2016-17. Another member of the committee, Abdul Rashid Godil, said the finance minister did not come to the meeting to explain the reason for the tax collection shortfall.

FBR Chairman Dr Irshad told the committee that FBR had collected Rs2046 billion so far in the current financial year, which is 7 percent higher than the collection for the same period last year. He said the government had set a Rs3621 billion tax collection target for the current fiscal year. The committee also considered the outcome of the export package announced by the government in the light of FBR policies.

The chairman of the FBR informed the committee that the FBR was supporting the exporters in this regard. However, the committee strongly recommended that income tax and sales tax refunds should be released to the concerned on a priority basis for improvement in export volume in the country. Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, chairman of the committee, informed the members that business community was facing problems due to delay for release of refunds by the FBR.

The committee was informed by the chairman of the FBR about the implementation status on the recommendation of the Standing Committee regarding reduction in differential of income tax between commercial and industrial importers. He said that FBR was waiting for the comments from the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries in this regard.

Zubair F Tufail, President of FPCCI, was also present at the meeting. He informed the committee that FPCCI had already forwarded a letter to the FBR for supporting the proposals already recommended by the committee. The committee once again directed the chairman of FBR to implement the unanimous decision/recommendation of the committee at the earliest.

The committee was considering the budgetary proposals in consultation with stakeholders for upcoming budget 2017-18. The proposals from FPCCI and various chambers of commerce and industry were discussed in detail. The committee ordered constitution of a four-member sub-committee for further deliberations with stakeholders to finalise the budgetary proposals. The sub-committee will present its report to the main committee within 30 days for submission to the Ministry of Finance and Revenue.