November 7, 2019: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that Pakistan values the financial and technical support provided by the World Bank for the institutional reforms and economic development of the country. He made this statement while talking Vice President of World Bank, Ms Ceyla Pazarbasioglu who called on the Adviser on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Ms Ceyla Pazarbasioglu is the Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) at the World Bank Group (WBG). She oversees a portfolio of nearly $30 billion of operational and policy work. She was accompanied in the meeting by Mr Illango Patchamuthu, Country Director WB.
During the meeting, the Adviser appreciated the support being provided by the World Bank to Pakistan and highlighted the government’s focus on expediting the speedy rollout of the World Bank pipeline of projects and actions being taken in this regard. Ms Ceyla Pazarbasioglu appreciated the economic reforms program initiated by the Government to stabilize the Pakistani economy and accelerate broad-based growth.
The World Bank team also congratulated the Adviser on the improvement on the ranking of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB). The World Bank team discussed with the Adviser the Resilient Institutions Strengthening Program (RISE). This includes an integrated Debt Management Office in the Finance Division.
The meeting also focused on areas of harmonization of the tax regime, circular debt strategy and National Tariff policy matters. The World Bank team apprised the Adviser on World Bank assistance being provided to harmonize the sales tax across Pakistan to further improve the business environment and enhance revenue collection.
In this regard, the Adviser was also updated on the progress under the US$ 400 million Pakistan Raises Revenue Project which aims to strengthen the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) and create a sustainable increase in Pakistan’s domestic tax revenue. The project will target raising the tax-to-GDP ratio to 17 per cent by the financial year 2023-2024 and widening the tax net from the current 1.2 million to at least 3.5 million active taxpayers.
The project will assist in simplifying the tax regime and strengthening tax and customs administration. It will also support the FBR with technology and digital infrastructure and technical skills. The Government has set improving tax revenue with low compliance costs as a high priority.