ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar has said that the government is ready to amend laws and bring administrative changes to implement the Tax Reforms Commission’s (TRC) recommendations.
While chairing a meeting, Asad Umar hinted at bringing legal and administrative changes to curb under-declaration of real estate values. The meeting was attended by tax and legal experts from the private sector, including members of the Tax Reforms Implementation Committee (TRIC).
The TRC also proposed the setting up of a national tax agency, besides stripping the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of its policymaking role, which is in line with the PTI’s election manifesto.
The finance minister promised to get the Benami rules cleared from the relevant cabinet body. The Benami Act that empowers the FBR to take over properties held in names of people other than real owners remains ineffective in the absence of rules. There have been lobbies in the bureaucracy that blocked implementation of the Benami law despite its approval by the last National Assembly.
Wednesday’s deliberations suggested that the finance minister was keen to take forward the unfinished tax reforms agenda. The government faces twin tax challenges – the extremely narrow tax base and low tax-to-GDP ratio.
Umar also decided to revive the TRIC, retaining its old composition. Three members of the TRC – Abid Shahban, Karachi-based eminent lawyer, Ashfaq Tola, a leading tax expert and Masoud Naqvi, a chartered accountant – have been retained as TRIC members. TRIC meetings would be chaired by Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar.