Shaukat Tarin, the federal Minister of Finance, announced on Thursday that Indian hackers had targeted the website of the Federal Board of Revenue, and that a similar attempt by Indian hackers had occurred in 2019.
He briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that India was responsible for the attack on the website, and he stated that such attacks by India will continue indefinitely and that Pakistan needed a long-term solution.
According to him, his neighbour is “an expert in carrying out this kind of cyber-attacks,” and “the government has punished those who deserve it,” he continued.
A permanent solution to this issue, according to the Minister, is being developed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), who has employed international experts, he added. There are no specialists or professionals in the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) or the Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL) who are capable of utilising technology and upgrading information technology systems. The FBR and the PRAL are both in need of system upgrades at this time.
He revealed the specifics of the hacking of the FBR’s website, stating that Level One of the website had been compromised, but that the hackers were unable to access the data stored in the database. If they were able to get their hands on the information, it could be hacked.
International experts have been hired by the FBR to install firewalls in order to prevent illegal access to its systems.
Minister Tarin stated that there should be no scarcity of funding available for [the] upgrading of the systems in the future. I have directed the Federal Bureau of Revenue to seek funding from the Ministry of Finance for this endeavor. We must safeguard the information at all costs.”
In addition, he told the committee that the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) would discontinue issuing frivolous notices to the business sector and that it would be able to connect 100,000 stores with the point of sale (POS) system.
The Federal Bureau of Retail will integrate an additional 100,000 to 150,000 businesses next year, and it will ensure that retailers issue a uniform receipt to their customers as a result of their participation.
The government has also made the decision to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) to broaden the tax base in the meanwhile. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) have information on 15 million unregistered individuals. The data has an accuracy of 85 to 90 percent and will be processed using artificial intelligence algorithms.
Messages and letters will be sent to the individuals who are required to register in order to complete the process. The vast majority of people will respond to the notices. In the event of non-compliance, a third-party audit shall be done without the involvement of any harassing parties.
Minister Tarin stated that if they continue to refuse to submit to a third-party audit, legal action will be taken in accordance with the law.