ISLAMABAD - State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar Tuesday said the government was focused on improving and simplifying taxation system by introducing new technology to facilitate the taxpayers.

He was addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). He said that government was focused on improving and simplifying taxation system by introducing new technology to facilitate the taxpayers. He said that the best way of minimizing interface between taxpayers and tax machinery was to use technology and government was making efforts to realize this goal that would eliminate harassment in taxpayers and improve their confidence.

He said that FBR pursuits to meet the high tax collection targets set by the governments created problems for taxpayers. He said that FBR has not taken a good step by issuing notices to 1.2 million taxpayers, which have created concerns. He said that the government was making efforts to bring reforms in tax system gradually as drastic measures could disturb the revenue lines of the government. He said that government has decided to separate policymaking and tax collection functions and audit function would also be separated by linking it directly with Prime Minister Office.

The Minister of State said these measures would reduce the problems of taxpayers and facilitate them in tax payment. He admitted that the manufacturing sector was paying highest tax while tax collection on services and agriculture sectors was with provinces but their collection was insufficient. He assured that government would bring more reforms in tax matters in consultation with the business community.

He said that government inherited the economy in a very bad shape as forex reserves, trade, current account and fiscal deficits were in deplorable condition. However, with the untiring efforts of the government, the economy has been steered out of the insolvency mode and future economic outlook was quite promising for the business community. He said that estimates and forecasts of all experts were presenting a good economic future for Pakistan and assured that the government would take more measures to improve ease of doing business and promote industrialization in the country.

Ahmed Hassan Moughal, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that the prevailing tax system was not conducive for business and investment promotion and government in consultation with private sector should streamline it. He said that the present leadership had created lot of hopes in the people that if voted to power, it would bring drastic reforms in FBR and increase annual tax revenue up to Rs.800 billion. However, the government has not taken any solid measures so far to broaden the tax base. He said government should focus on broadening tax base and increase tax spending on education, health and public welfare that would increase the confidence of taxpayers. He said billions of rupees of tax refunds were stuck up with FBR and government should issue bonds against such refund claims to resolve this issue.

Rafat Farid Senior Vice President and Iftikhar Anwar Sethi Vice President ICCI thanked the State Minister for Revenue for visiting ICCI and hoped that the government would take measures to resolve the highlighted issues.