LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bukht, addressing a pre-budget seminar, said that the government wants to introduce a consensus-oriented budget to gain a greater confidence of taxpayers by promoting transparency.
He expects to have such forums on a regular basis to help remove ambiguities between revenue mobilization and issues faced by various sectors and industries to bring significant value addition in helping the government in decision making.
“Our reliance on FBR needs reduction and greater resource generation by the province should be the number one priority”, he stated and said that he wants technology to be introduced in departments to help reduce expenditures and convert governmental assets into revenue.
He further stated that he wants to introduce E-Procurement into departments so that there is less human intervention and expects the same in the Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA). He also shed light on the austerity measures taken by the government and stressed the need for reduction in its expenditures in order to increase revenue.
Dr Hafeez Pasha in his remarks said PRA is far ahead in its performance and has the capability to generate huge revenue compared to FBR. Though the law and order situation due to the War on Terror and the power crisis brought a downfall in the growth rate of the economy of the nation as well as the province now the environment is conducive to stabilize its economy through better planning and adaptive measures.
The seminar was organized by PRA in collaboration with GIZ and was attended by dignitaries from various renowned multinationals including Ufone, Telenor, PTCL, Mobilink, Zong, Honda Altas along with researchers from ICAP. The members of panel discussion also included Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh (Finance Secretary Punjab), Naeem sheikh(Ex-President ICAP), Hafeez Pasha (Ex Federal Minister), Javed Ahmed (Chairman PRA), Nasir Salam(Tax Director Mobilink) and Stephen Shield (ACCA Global Director), Tayyab Hussain (Honda Altas).
The purpose of arranging the pre-budget seminar was to bring all the stakeholders on one platform in order to share views before finalizing the budget. During the seminar, some reservations and apprehensions were raised and discussed paving the ground for the formulation of a consensus-oriented and progressive budget. The recommendation from panellist included standardization of tax rate in the telecom sector as well as greater focus on the agriculture sector.
In his address, PRA chairperson Javed Ahmed stated that PRA is working on plans to broaden its tax base while extending its outreach and providing taxpayers with better facilities. He stated that PRA shall also be working on plans to achieve risk-based audits and expects it to adapt to a full automation monitoring system in the form of eIMS (Electronic Invoice Monitoring System) for different services similar to it successful Restaurant Invoice Monitoring System (RIMS).
He also said that PRA is working on the full digitization of Punjab Revenue Authority as this is the only solution to curb corruption and hopes to move towards negative list for sales tax on services in order to simplify understanding and compliance of the law and eliminate anomalies. PRA managed to achieve a record Rs.109 Billion in FY 2017-18 and expects to achieve this year’s target.