ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar has urged sub-groups of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to swiftly come up with recommendations for finalising the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).
Presiding over a meeting of the EAC sub-groups on NFIS and fiscal sector, Umar emphasised the need for setting diligent timelines for goals, targets and actions to be initiated and cautioned against delaying implementation of the strategy.
The meeting was attended by all major stakeholders and members of the sub-groups from the Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
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SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa presented the NFIS which was designed to enhance quality and access to financial services in the country.
He outlined the targets and necessary policy actions to be undertaken at various levels in coming years to meet the targets. The discussion centred around fast-tracking the digitalisation of financial services in order to accommodate higher number of consumers, small and medium businesses and emerging entrepreneurs across the country.
In the fiscal policy sub-group meeting, FBR representatives presented the problems that were currently weakening the tax administration system including the inconsistent tax policy. It was noted that these issues led to a fall in tax collection and massive fiscal imbalances. The sub-group also considered solutions to fix the tax system by recommending policy measures targeting two major areas - tax administration and tax policy.
It was noted that the information technology could play a big role in including more and more people into the tax net and apprehending tax evaders.
It was also pointed out that continued coordination among provinces and between the federal and provincial governments was of prime importance for avoiding double taxation. The minister appreciated the efforts undertaken by the groups which were assisted by senior FBR officers and issued directives for setting deadlines for the suggested administrative and policy reforms in a bid to ease the huge fiscal burden that was affecting the economy and to provide the government with much-needed fiscal space.
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The FBR informed the minister that in order to uphold the spirit of transparency and improve relations with the taxpayers, the board was starting an awareness campaign to let people know how their tax payments were being utilised.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2018.
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