Amnesty scheme draws 100,000 new tax filers, $450m

Published: July 4, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal government, struggling to lift revenues and cut ballooning public debt, registered around 100,000 new tax filers and expects to have raised about $450 million from a tax amnesty on hidden assets, adviser on finance Hafeez Shaikh said on Thursday.

The announcement came a day after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave final approval to a $6 billion loan package designed to shore up the economy while the government cuts debt and builds up dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Shaikh said nearly 137,000 people had registered at the closure of the amnesty this week, of whom nearly 100,000 were first-time filers.

In total, around Rs3 trillion ($19.25 billion) of assets were declared and tax revenue worth around Rs70 billion ($449.15 million) was collected.

Prime Minister Imran Khan introduced the amnesty on undeclared assets, part of a broader drive to widen tax base, in a bid to identify high earners for more efficient tax collection.

Under the IMF agreement, approved on Wednesday, Pakistan has undertaken to drastically increase revenue mobilisation by 4-5% of GDP at federal and provincial level over three years.

Shaikh said the IMF agreement would open up more funds from other lending agencies and help the broader economy.

“Pakistan’s economy will stabilise, and we will take on the path of progress,” he said.

The government has set a target of raising Rs5.55 trillion ($35.6 billion) in tax this year, an ambitious goal given that it missed a previous target of Rs4.4 trillion ($28.2 billion) by over Rs500 billion ($3.2 billion).

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