World Bank eyes increase in tax ratio to 17pc by FY24

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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank-funded $400 million project is aimed at creating a sustainable increase in the country’s tax revenue, raising the tax-to-GDP ratio to 17 per cent and widening the tax net to 3.5m active taxpayers by 2023-24.

A World Bank team led by Vice-President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) Ceyla Pazarbasioglu on Wednesday informed Finance Adviser Hafeez Shaikh that the under-consideration project will assist in simplifying the tax regime and strengthening tax and customs administration. It will also support the FBR with technology, digital infrastructure and technical skills.

Country Director Illango Patchamuthu was also present in the meeting.

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The government has set improving tax revenue with low compliance costs as a high priority.

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The WB team also discussed the Resilient Institutions Strengthening Programme (Rise) which includes an integrated debt management office in the Finance Division. The meeting also focused on areas of harmonisation of tax regime, circular debt strategy and national tariff policy matters.

On the occasion, Dr Shaikh said Pakistan values the financial and technical support provided by the World Bank for institutional reforms and economic development of the country.

The adviser appreciated the support being provided by the World Bank to Pakistan and highlighted the government’s focus on expediting speedy roll-out of the projects in pipeline and actions being taken in this regard.

Ms Pazarbasioglu, who oversees a portfolio of nearly $30 billion of operational and policy work, appreciated the economic reforms programme initiated by the government to stabilise economy and accelerate broad-based growth. The World Bank team also congratulated Dr Shaikh on the improvement on the ranking of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’.

Doha Forum invite

Ambassador of Qatar, Saqr bin Mubarak Al Mansouri also held a meeting with Dr Hafeez Shaikh, and handed over to him an invitation letter from the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar to attend the ‘Doha Forum’ scheduled to be held next month.

The envoy said the relationship between Pakistan and Qatar had many manifestations and the two countries are working together to forge business partnerships and economic collaborations.

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The adviser said that Pakistan values its relationship with Qatar and the government is keen to facilitate the Qatari businessmen and investors who have shown interest in recent months to invest in Pakistan and participate in the economic development of the country.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2019

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