ISLAMABAD: With much of the government’s efforts to increase tax revenue yielding little to no result, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resorted to announcing incentive packages for the business community, and tax payers on Thursday afternoon, Radio Pakistan reported.
During his address to businessmen and traders in Islamabad, he said that the government would forego the requisite requirement of asking for the source of investment, if they are made in the government’s green field projects or expansion projects in certain sectors after January 2014. Standard regulations under Narcotics Act of 1977, Anti-Terrorism Act of 1977 and the Anti-Money Laundering Law will still be applicable to curb inflow of black money.
He told the business community that he “hopes to make it possible that the country’s policies are approved by [businessmen and traders],” Express News reported.
The incentive scheme is being extended to the investment starved Thar coal project, and low cost housing schemes – a manifesto promise of the incumbent government. A negative list of industries, to which these incentives will remain inaccessible, include ammunition, weapons, fertiliser, sugar, cigarettes, beverages, textile spinning units, ghee, flour mills, cement and edible oil mills.
“We are far behind other countries… so far behind that we are mentioned amongst the lowest countries in the world,” Express News reported Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as saying on Thursday.
“I hope that the spirit of nationalism will rise in all of you and that you will pay your taxes,” he added.
Nawaz also announced plans to reward those people who have been diligently filing their taxes.
The premier said that in order to encourage tax payers a ‘Privileged Tax Payers Cards’ would be issued to 400 top tax payers in different categories including chief executive officers, association of persons, salaried and non-salaried class tax payers.
The card will grant a holder access to VIP lounges at airports, fast track immigration‚ passports would be issued gratis and their existing baggage allowance would be increased from $500 to $5,000 from March next year.
The prime minister said excellence awards will also be given to ten top most tax payers in each category and he himself would be hosting annual dinner in their honour.
Nawaz added that announced tax returns of all those who have paid at least 25% tax more than they did the year before will now be exempt from total audit. For this purpose‚ the last date for filing of tax returns was being extended to December 15, 2013. Those who have already filed their returns can also avail this facility by revising their returns.
The premier said tax returns of those who have been filing for the last five years would also be exempt from audit, provided they pay at least Rs20,000 in tax.
Those acquiring NTN for the first time would be exempt from penalty and default surcharge provided they pay at least Rs25,000 tax.
Special incentives would also be available to ten top most tax payers from among the new tax payers.
The premier has recently been travelling around the world to discuss bilateral trade with heads of state.
Earlier this month, while addressing a group of Thai and Pakistani businessmen in Bangkok, Nawaz had said that he strongly believes that promotion of bilateral regional trade was an effective way to promote sustainable economic growth.
He had said that Pakistan was pursuing a policy of enhanced regional cooperation through various trade agreements, adding that the top priority of his government was to create a framework that would foster rapid economic development.
The premier had added that Pakistan is an emerging economy and a gateway to Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East. He had said that the regional countries could help each other by reaching markets that are not easily accessible.
He had mentioned the country’s free trade agreements with China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, adding that the government was looking to Pakistan’s entry into the GSP plus Scheme of the European Union.