ISLAMABAD: Discrepancies in tax collection figures have surfaced again, as the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has reported Rs1.172 trillion collection in the first half of fiscal year, which is Rs7 billion higher than the number announced by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
During a press conference held the other day, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the FBR collected Rs1.165 trillion in taxes from July through December of fiscal year 2014-15, showing a growth of 13% over the previous year’s collection.
On the basis of Rs1.165 trillion final collection, Dar said that budget deficit –gap between income and expenses – remained at 2.4% of total size of economy or Rs696 billion, in the first half of the fiscal year. A finance ministry official told The Express Tribune that Dar shared reconciled figures, which were also confirmed by the State Bank of Pakistan to the ministry.
The collection figure reported by Dar was almost Rs7 billion less than the collection claimed by the FBR. On January 8, the FBR issued final collection figures for the first half. It has officially declared that the tax machinery collected Rs1.172 trillion in taxes. The FBR claimed 15% growth in collection.
FBR spokesman Shahid Hussain Asad said that the FBR’s Rs1.172 trillion collection figure was based on data compiled by its Directorate of Research and Statistics.
The FBR fell behind its first half’s target of Rs1.246 trillion. The collection also fell short of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) determined conservative target of Rs1.195 trillion.
The parliament approved a Rs2.810-trillion target for the FBR. But the IMF is of the view that the FBR would not be able to collect more than Rs2.756 trillion. However, independent economists say that the collection will be around Rs2.6 trillion despite taking additional revenue measures.
The government has increased sales tax on petroleum products to 22% – an additional levy of 5% over the standard rate aimed at narrowing the growing shortfall in collection.
It was for the second time in last six months when the FBR reported higher tax collection. For the last fiscal year that ended on June 30, the FBR had reported that it collected Rs2.266 trillion in taxes. However, the figures released by the SBP put actual collection at Rs2.257 trillion, depicting a gap of Rs9 billion.
On the issue of discrepancy in last year’s collection, Dar had told The Express Tribune that the FBR booked Rs9 billion petroleum levy as its tax collection, which was a mistake. He said the mistake has been rectified and last year’s final collection amounted to Rs2.257 trillion.
But experts say since petroleum levy is not collected by the FBR, there were no chances of double entry of a single item.
Dar had also said that the government did not report the reconciled tax collection data of the last fiscal year to the IMF.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2015.
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