Unpopular decisions needed to avoid IMF funding, says Punjab finance minister

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SOURCEThe Express Tribune
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LAHORE:  Pakistan will not require the support of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in future as the government is introducing structural and financial reforms, which will end the country’s reliance on these institutions, declared Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht.

Speaking at an event in connection with the annual Tax Day on Wednesday, the minister stressed that these reforms were unavoidable and unpopular decisions were the need of the hour to avoid funding from the IMF or World Bank in future.

He insisted that results of the government’s unpopular decisions and reforms would surface gradually. “The government is making the tax payment system easier and taxpayer-friendly. Devolution of powers has helped raise revenue collection and is benefiting the public.”

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Bakht emphasised that the government respected taxpayers and considered them partners in Pakistan’s development, progress and economic growth. He voiced hope that taxpayers of the Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) would increase to 100,000 by 2020.

Also Read: In last round with IMF, Asad sees growth, stability

“The PRA started with 2,000 taxpayers who have now reached 65,000,” he revealed, while stressing the need for widening the tax base at the municipality level in a similar way.

Saying that the devolution of powers led to an increase in the number of taxpayers and widened the tax base in the province, the minister suggested that an inspector-less system in the taxation mechanism would prove to be a game changer.

Furthermore, he said, the government had been focusing on streamlining revenue collection at the federal and provincial levels and it required the public to help step up tax receipts as Pakistan was one of the top charity-giving nations.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Minister for Revenue Malik Muhammad Anwar termed the spread of tax culture crucial for economic growth of the country.

“If taxpayers have trust their tax payments are spent on welfare projects, then everyone will pay taxes willingly,” he remarked. “A corruption-free taxation system is part of the government’s agenda.”

PRA Chairman Javed Ahmed said the authority collected Rs110 billion in taxes last year with average growth of 36%. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2019.

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