SNG and PRA Organise a Seminar for Harmonisation of Tax Collection in Pakistan

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SNG and PRA Organise a Seminar for Harmonisation of Tax Collection in Pakistan

The Punjab team of Sub-National Governance (SNG) Programme, which is an initiative of the UK Department of International Development (DfID), collaborated with Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA), Finance Department for a seminar to ensure harmonisation of Sales Tax Collection across Pakistan. The event was held on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 in Lahore.

The seminar was divided into two sessions. The first session included a panel discussion along with presentations from Institute of Chartered Accounts of Pakistan (ICAP), Pakistan Tax Bar (PTB), Overseas Investors of Commerce & Industry (OICI) and Pakistan Business Council (PBC). The panelists included following 16 members: Chief IR Operations, Federal Board Revenue (FBR), Aamer Amin Bhatti; Chairman Baluchistan Revenue Authority (BRA), Misri Ladhani; DFID Advisor, Omar Mukhtar; DG Khyber Phakhtunkhwa Revenue Authority (KPRA), Nasir khan; Advisor Tax Policy, Sindh Revenue Authority (SRB), Mushtaque Kazimi; Chairman Sindh Revenue Authority (SRB), Khalid Masood; Chairman PRA Punjab, Dr. Raheel Ahmad; Head of Research of Baluchistan Revenue Authority (BRA), Ali Khizar; Secretary Services of The Services and General Administration Department ( S&GAD), Farhan A. Khawaja; Professor, Beacon House National University (BNU), Dr. Hafiz Pasha; President Lahore Chamber of Commerce Industry (LCCI), Malik Tahir. J; Director National Incubation Centre, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Khurram Zafar; Director Unilever, Aman Ghanchi; Punjab Team Leader Sub- National Governance Programme (SNG), Usman Khan; President of Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA), Momin Sultan; and Council Member ICAP, Partner EY Ford Rhodes Muhammad Awais.

Among others, representation from PRA also included Member Operations PRA, Javed Ahmed; Commissioner Appeal PRA, Ali Mansoor; Additional Commissioner PRA, Aman Anwar Kadwai and Director IT PRA, Salman Zafar. The delegates of Institute of ICAP, Pakistan Tax Bar, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Overseas Investors of Commerce & Industry, Department of International Development, Pakistan Business Council and delegation from all
provincial authorities, including the FBR were also present at the event.

While talking about the performance of PRA since its inception as provincial revenue collecting agency in 2016, Chairman PRA, Dr. Raheel Ahmed Siddiqui said, “PRA as a tax revenue collecting authority has not only in the past achieved its revenue targets but is on course to achieve a new tax revenue target for current year where it stands at a 9-month high revenue of Rs.75 billion, which is 50% higher than previous year for the corresponding time period.” He also added that PRA has proved its existence by conducting tax clinics for different sectors and registering new tax payers while inducting new smart systems like RIMS, STRIVE, E-Courts into its portfolio.

Chief guest, Dr. Hafiz Pasha emphasised on the need for harmonisation amongst all revenue collecting agencies to attract more local and foreign businesses. He praised PRA’s efforts in establishing a transparent tax system in a very short span of time. He also advised the authorities to gain the confidence of the businessmen before implementing any new taxes laws for fewer implications and improved revenue generation within the country. While appreciating PRA’s efforts towards conducting Tax Clinics for different sectors as a way to develop camaraderie among the industrialists, he recommended the government to focus on business friendly policies. He also lauded PRA’s initiative of introduction RIMS like monitoring system for different sectors as he thinks it shall not only help increase tax revenue but assist in curbing tax evasion.

While introducing SNG Programme, which is the UK Department of International Development (DfID) funded initiative, Team Lead SNG Punjab, Usman Khan, shared the mission of the programme, which is to help ensure that government services better meet the needs of poor people in Punjab by enabling delivery of following programme-level outputs: Improvement in Public Financial Management (PFM) and planning systems; devolution of systems, processes
and budgets for better focus on service delivery; and, support for innovative experiments, some of which substantially improve service delivery.

Khan went on to say that in order to achieve its objectives, the SNG programme especially focused on improving the existing PFM systems and processes of the Government with the ultimate goal of improved service delivery. Khan also mentioned that SNG Punjab’s PFM team worked very closely with PRA for the identification of 25000 new taxpayers. He also talked about SNG’s work with the Finance and Planning and Development Departments to develop the PFM Reform Strategy & PFC Award and Annual Development Programme guidelines, respectively. Moreover, he mentioned that during the life of the Programme, SNG Punjab also provided technical assistance to the government in “drafting the rules and guidelines for the Local Government.”

While discussing SNG’s particular focus on innovative solutions for improved public service delivery in health and education, he shared that most of the pilots have been adopted for scale-up with the government. Khan also added that the seminar would play a pivotal role in identification of problems associated with tax collection along with their possible solutions for effective implementation of SNG’s PFM Reform Strategy. While highlighting the significance of the seminar, DfID Advisor, Omar Mukhtar also shared, “This seminar will go a long way to address the issues of the
taxpayers.”

During the session, representatives of ICAP, PTB, OICCI, LCCI and PBC presented their concerns, issues and ideas to the authorities for recommendations of improvements in the existing tax system. They stressed upon the need for a broad based policy, directly focused on the ease of rules and regulations the industry. They also appreciated PRA’s effort for conducting such events as part of Tax Day celebrations and advised the authority to repeat such meetings
on yearly basis as such events help create a conducive environment for healthier discussions and resolution of issues.

President LCCI, Tahir Malik pointed out that some of the services are the major bone of contention between FBR and PRA, which needs to be resolved and as a recommendation he suggested the merger of excise and taxation, board of revenue and Punjab revenue authority while introducing one window operation.

The second leg of the seminar after lunch included a board meeting of all Provisional Authorities and FBR to discuss issues related to double taxation, input adjustment and sharing of data, etc.