The number of people who file tax returns with no income is approximately 35%, according to a top government official on Monday.
On Sunday, Federal Finance and Revenue Minister Shaukat Tarin met with representatives from the business community to discuss the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, which was promulgated on September 15, 2021, by presidential order, according to a statement from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
Tarin stated unequivocally that the goal of the ordinance, which was strictly for non-filers and under-filers who file zero tax, was not to create a sense of victimization.
“It was a source of concern that, out of a total of 2.9 million filers, one million were individuals who filed tax returns but had no taxable income,” the finance minister.
According to the finance minister, “we intend to enlist the assistance of artificial intelligence to examine electricity, gas, and telephone bills, as well as [the] banking transaction activities and other details of such filers and classify them as under-filers who will be required to submit their taxes through a third party.”
In his address to the business community, Tarin stated that the drawback of local taxes and levies (DLTL) would be released on a priority basis, and that the DLTL program has been extended and will not be discontinued, and that the business community would receive all of its claims on time because the funds for this purpose had already been allocated in the budget. He also stated that the Rs32 billion in pending DLTL claims from the previous fiscal year would be released as well.
He advised the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to travel to Islamabad to discuss their concerns about the new ordinance, as well as to resolve all issues on the spot by scheduling meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Razak Dawood, Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, and Federal Minister for Industries and Production Muzammil Hussain. He also advised the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to travel to Islamabad to discuss.
Deputy Prime Minister Tarin said the government was serious about resolving issues to ensure sustainable economic growth at a rate of 5%, which was the primary reason for increasing the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and lowering raw material prices to allow the industry to stand on its own two feet.
“The good news is that we are growing, as all of the indicators are showing improvements, and we are growing at a faster rate than what was expected,” he said, adding that the country’s import bill will reach $19 billion this year, up from $13 billion last year, primarily due to “rising petroleum prices and other commodities, which we must absorb,” he said.
The finance minister also stated that the government’s goal was to increase the rate of exports from the current eight percent to 18 percent in the next few years, while also expanding the country’s limited industrial base through tax breaks and other incentives.
The Covid pandemic, along with logistics disruptions and exorbitant container charges, were all contributing factors to inflation, which Tarin stated was not unique to Pakistan. Many countries around the world, including regional countries, were experiencing inflation as a result of the Covid pandemic.
“Since 2018, the prices of palm oil, wheat, and rice have been steadily rising around the world. We are inextricably linked to international commodity prices, and we cannot afford to distance ourselves from them.”
He also promised to relay the KCCI’s worries about the deteriorating status of Karachi’s infrastructure to the prime minister, with a request that the federal government takes some sort of immediate action to address the deteriorating state of Karachi’s infrastructure.