FBR to launch crackdown on smugglers from Sept 1

Aims to stem inflow of goods through illicit channels that has badly hit local industries

Salman Siddiqui August 28, 2019
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi has announced that a crackdown will be launched against smugglers next week as the inflow of goods through illicit channels has badly hit local industries.

"Starting from the first of September, the FBR is declaring a war at the retail level where non-taxed imported goods are flooding the market to the detriment of the national exchequer," the FBR chief said while addressing the 21st convention of the Management Association of Pakistan (MAP).

He said the manufacturing sector was bearing the brunt of taxation while the trade and unorganised services sector were getting off scot-free.

He made it clear that the Dubai-focused import model of economic development would not work here and "if Pakistanis kept parking their money overseas, then the crisis at home would no doubt go from bad to worse," a statement read.

He said no tangible investment had been made in the last 70 years. This situation had resulted in "running two Pakistans, one for the haves and the other for the have-nots," he said.

"We have been too inconsistent in our policymaking and in the last 40 years we have divorced the books of accounts from the taxation system," he added, lamenting "we do not have reliable data and documentation of the economy remains a wishful thinking."

He spoke of the disharmony between mindsets of the tax collectors and the taxpayers and said the solution lay in fixing the system instead of reforming the individual. In that connection, the FBR has instituted reforms that simplify the process and ensure minimum interaction between the FBR and taxpayers.

 

SBP action plan 2023

Speaking on the occasion, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Deputy Governor Jameel Ahmad said the central bank has taken measures to increase exports and create new job opportunities in the country.

"The NFIS (national financial inclusion strategy) action plan expects to contribute in achieving sustainable development through creation of three million new jobs, generate additional exports of $5 billion and enhance banks' deposits to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio to 55% by 2023 through measures adopted under NFIS-2023."

Earlier, the central bank achieved its target of providing banking services to around 50% adult population well before the set timeline of 2020.

"SBP's data shows that unique account ownership in Pakistan has reached 63.9 million, representing more than 50% of adults having a bank account in the country well before the deadline of year 2020," said Ahmad.

The target was set in the first national financial inclusion strategy launched back in 2015.

Ahmad said the NFIS 2023 has targeted to enhance the number of active digital transaction accounts to 65 million, including 20 million accounts by women; extend bank financing to 700,000 SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises); increase agricultural financing by serving six million farmers through digitalised solutions; extending annual disbursements to Rs1.8 trillion; and finally enhance the share of Islamic Banking assets and its number of branches to 25% and 30% of the banking industry, respectively.

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