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FBR preparing tax evaders’ data

LAHORE, Mar 18: Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar on Monday said that through technology profiling, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was preparing the largest data base of tax evaders with the cooperation of NADRA, FIA and State Bank of Pakistan to bring them into tax net.

Talking to business community here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he said this profiling was in advance stage and would be completed by the end of April. He said that there would be no escape for tax evaders and there would be no need for raids by FBR. He said that raids by FBR on business premises had been suspended till March 31, 2019. He advised all those that evaded or understated income to file tax realistic returns. He said that most of the raids were conducted on the basis of data analysis of firms and individuals.

Azhar deplored that in the past FBR used to achieve tax targets by enhancing the tax rates that hurt tax compliant entrepreneurs. He said after separation of Tax planning from tax collection, the FBR officials would now have to make real efforts to achieve their targets.

He said revenue would be increased by bringing in tax evaders into tax net and checking the under filing of taxes through technology. He clarified that filing a tax return did not necessarily mean that taxes were not evaded and there was a need to scrutinize financials of taxpayers to ascertain the no evasion had occurred.

The minister assured the businessmen that after enlargement of tax base the tax rates would also be brought down to the regional level. He said indirect taxation hurt the poor; this was the reason this government desired to increase the percentage of direct taxes.

Earlier, LCCI President Almas Hyder pointed out that 99.4 percent of the entire tax revenue was deposited by the taxpaying businessmen.

The LCCI President said that government should review the laws and rules & regulations which ultimately made people to stay away from tax net.



PM appreciates WB’s continued support for uplift of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Mar 18: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday appreciated the World Bank’s continued engagement with Pakistan and its support towards capacity building, infrastructure development and economic growth.

The Prime Minister stated this while talking to a World Bank delegation headed by Hartwig Schafer, Vice President South Asia, which called on him here at the Prime Minister Office. Other members of the delegation included Ms Annete Dixon, Vice President Human Development, Illangovan Patchamuthu, Country Director, Ms Melinda Good, Operations Manager and  Nadeem Siddiqui, Sr Country Manager International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Nadeem Siddiqui expressed the IFC’s interest in contributing towards the Prime Minister’s five million housing programme.

The delegation also offered the WB’s assistance in attracting foreign investments, analytics, sharing of expertise and technical knowledge in various sectors to help the government translate its vision into reality.

The Prime Minister welcomed the offer and said Pakistan looked forward to greater partnership with the World Bank in critical areas such as building knowledge economy and developing tourism sector especially eco-tourism, mountain and religious tourism which, he said, had a huge potential towards uplift of the poor and poverty alleviation.

He also highlighted various steps being taken by the present government towards economic stability, poverty alleviation and improving ease of doing business in the country.

The delegation lauded the Prime Minister’s vision regarding progress of the country especially his focus on economic stability, human development and addressing the issue of stunted growth due to malnutrition.

The delegation briefed the Prime Minister about various ongoing projects of the World Bank in various sectors, including water supply, sewerage and waste management, transportation and connectivity, capacity building and ease of doing business in the country.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Naeem-ul-Haq, Secretary Finance Arif Ahmed Khan, Secretary Economic Affairs Division Noor Ahmed and other senior officials were also present during the meeting.



British PM battles to bring Brexiteers onside

London, March 18: Britain's government scrambled Monday to convince Brexit hardliners to give in at last and back Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal, though several opponents were refusing to blink.

With less than two weeks to go until a potentially chaotic departure on March 29 that could trigger an economic shock, May was struggling to turn the trickle of Brexiteers coming onside into a flood.

MPs have heavily rejected the divorce agreement twice.

If they can back a deal by Wednesday, then May will head to the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday and seek a short technical delay to Brexit until June 30.

If MPs cannot rally round a deal, she will seek a long delay beyond that date.

May will not bring the deal back before parliament if she is sure to lose.

"Before any further vote were to take place we would want to believe that we had a reasonable prospect of being successful," her spokesman said.

May wants to be able "to win a vote this week and then only have to ask for that short, technical extension".

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, citing strong critics of the deal who were now backing it, said there were "cautious signs of encouragement" but admitted there was a "huge amount of work to do" to win over hardcore Brexiteers.

All eyes are on Northern Ireland's small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which May's Conservatives rely upon for a slender majority in parliament, and the European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative Brexiteers, both of which have so far rejected the deal.

"The prime minister held discussions with a number of her colleagues over the weekend. Talks have been taking place with the DUP. Those talks are continuing," her spokesman said.

European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels for pre-summit talks on Monday were broadly supportive of granting a delay but questioned its purpose.

"We are not against an extension in Belgium but the problem is to do what?" Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told reporters.



US stocks open week higher ahead of Fed meeting

New York, March 18: Wall Street stocks edged higher from five-month highs early Monday ahead of a Federal Reserve interest rate decision later this week.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was essentially flat at 25,845.90.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.3 percent at 2,830.64, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 7,712.75.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended last week at their highest level since October 9.

After a bruising conclusion to 2018, US stocks have spent much of the first quarter pushing higher amid expectations for a US-China trade deal and dovish commentary from the Fed.

The Fed will have another opportunity to weigh in on Wednesday following a meeting that is expected to keep interest rates unchanged and could lower forecasts for rate increases in 2019.

Among individual companies, Boeing dropped 2.7 percent as scrutiny builds over its 737 MAX aircraft that was grounded globally last week following a second deadly crash in less than five months.



Government to reduce regional inequality through regional equalization strategy:...

March 18, 2019 (MLN): The government is planning to off load some burden from PSDP for commercially viable infrastructure projects by resorting to innovative financing through public private partnership and viability gap financing. The government is also trying to reduce regional inequality through regional equalization strategy.

A delegation led by the Director General Central West Asian Department, Asian Development Bank Werner Liepach called on the Minister for Planning Development and Reform Makhdom Khusru Bakhtyar on Monday. Member infrastructure, Member Private Sector development and competitiveness, Chief Macroeconomics and senior officials from ministry were also present in the meeting.

The minister while welcoming the delegation lauded the role of ADB in modernizing infrastructure initiatives in Pakistan adding that the cooperation further needed to be expanded in the education , health, water, energy and infrastructure especially in the under developed areas of the country .

The minister for Planning Makhdom Khusru Bakhtyar said that the government also trying to use cities as engine of growth and trying to develop 50 intermediate cities across the country by developing basic urban infrastructure.

He also stressed the need for impact assessment of the projects on regional growth and creation of job opportunities for locals.

Mukhdom Khusru Bakhtiar also informed the delegation about the government’s vision of restructuring the public sector and improving the governance for more efficient service delivery.

ADB also ensured that it will help the government in mobilizing required resources in local currency bonds; ADB is ready to provide transaction advisory services for developing institutional capacity and competitiveness.

The Asian Development Bank Central West Asian Department Director General Werner Liepach said that ADB is also working on important infrastructure projects in Karachi and also it has a program with Punjab government regarding intermediate city development. In this regard work is also going on in two cities Sahiwal and Sialkot.

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