Finance Minister, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar has directed the Finance Division to proactively work with the World Bank (WB) to ensure correct reporting of economic data.
Chairing a meeting at the Ministry of Finance, the Finance Ministry also directed to ensure timely and effective implementation of the various ongoing initiatives of the Ministry.
The Minister expressed his satisfaction on the progress made by FBR and stated that the last date for filing of returns was extended to October 31, based on the genuine demands from tax professionals and trade organizations.
He said that given this facilitation which has been extended to trade bodies and taxpayers, FBR should now work closely with representative bodies to ensure that returns due for the current year are filed by October 31 2017.
Earlier, the finance minister was briefed by Acting Finance Secretary on the World Bank report and the progress of the various ongoing initiatives of the Ministry of Finance.
He said that a recently published World Bank Report had erroneously indicated Pakistan’s gross external financing needs at US$ 31 billion for the current fiscal year.
He said that the Report is based on misinterpretation of standard definition of the gross financing needs of the country.
Based on the international reporting standards, Pakistan’s actual gross financing need for FY 2017-18 is estimated atUS$18 billion (5.3% of GDP) rather than $31 billion (9% of GDP), he added.
He informed the Minister that the matter had been taken up with the World Bank to rectify the error. The external inflows are expected to be sufficient to meet repayment obligations, the spokesman said adding that during the first two months of current financial year, exports and remittances have improved and imports have slowed down.
He said that efforts were in hand to make sure that the strong fiscal performance of first quarter is maintained during the second quarter and beyond. The minister was also briefed on the estimates of gross external financing needs during the current fiscal year. On the occasion, Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister regarding the progress in Taxpayer’s outreach programme launched by FBR on the instructions of FM for broadening of tax base.
He informed that senior officers of FBR were holding workshops on e-filing of returns for members of tax bars, professional bodies and chambers of commerce and industry. Large corporate employers have been approached for ensuring filing of returns by all the employees receiving taxable salary.
Help desks had been established in tax offices throughout the country and FBR’s helpline and website had been revamped to facilitate return filing, he said adding that the efforts in this direction were yielding results and up to 13th October more than 352,000 returns had been received as against 162,000 returns received up to the same date last year.
The Minister was further informed that specialized Broadening of Tax Base (BTB) zones will become fully operational from November.