ISLAMABAD - The government on Friday informed the National Assembly that the major reason behind low tax-to-GDP ratio was the worsening law and order situation in the country.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar informed the Lower House through a written answer that Pakistan was confronted with low tax-to GDP ratio for the last several years. “Major reasons for low tax-GDP ratio are the poor law and order situation in the country and energy crisis which have adversely affected the revenue generation efforts,” the minister said.
With terrorism still a big challenge for the government, the finance minister said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was intending to include 300,000 new taxpayers in three-year to generate revenue.
He said 120,000 notices had been issued in 2013-14 and more notices will be issued in fiscal year 2014-15 and 2015-16 to achieve the goal. Moreover, he said the FBR has devised a plan for rationalisation of concessionary regime and withdrawal of exemptions.
With terrorism taking heavy toll on tax-GDP ratio , the finance minister said the government had taken some measures to bring the under taxed and untaxed segment of economy into the tax net.
The first tranche of exemptions, he said had already been withdrawn in the budget 2014-15, adding through budgetary measures 2014-15, the cost of doing business for a non-tax filer had been raised considerably vis-à-vis to compliant tax filers. Furthermore, he said the FBR has chalked out an administrative plan and is implementing it accordingly which covers number of tax potential areas for taxing tax evaders.
Replying to a written question about the total financial loss caused by terrorism, Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan told the Lower House that during the decade long war on terror, Pakistan had suffered a loss of over $80 billion, including loss of over 50,000 civilians’ casualties and personnel of law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
The House was informed that during 2008-2012, as many as 9,579 people were killed and 24, 699 people injured across the country due to terrorism with FATA topping the list where 3768 people lost their lives followed by KP where 3236 people were killed.
The minister said the Directorate of Internal Security(DIS) under National Counter and Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was being established where 33 civilian and military intelligence and operational agencies will be performing duties under one roof to contain the menace of terrorism and extremism.
He said collection, analysis, dissemination of intelligence gathering through integrated mechanism was being established which will develop operational capabilities and conducting intelligence-based operations in coordination with LEAs in the provinces and FATA.
To another question, the interior minister mentioned some measures undertaken by the government for improving law and order situation in country.
He said 6.32 million un-verified mobile SIMs had been blocked while Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) had initiated Biometric Verification System according to agreed time lines.
More than 500 million fingerprints and 116.5 million facial images had been collected by NADRA and 95.2 million identity cards issued. NADRA is assisting in providing identification services in matters of counter terrorism and crime which is helpful for maintaining law and order in the country.
Earlier, the PML-N government painted a rosy picture of its performance in one and a half years, claiming a significant improvement in the law and order situation, the power crisis, poverty and public sector entities (PSEs).
The government side, finally winding up the debate on President Mamnoon Hussain’s maiden address to the joint session of the parliament after over six months, contested all the opposition charges and blamed the previous government for most of the issues.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab, winding up the debate, claimed that this government had improved law and order situation by launching operations against terrorist elements in the country.
“The situation in Karachi is comparatively better as the incumbent government has launched the operation against terrorists,” he said, also mentioning the operation against terrorists in North Waziristan. He further said the armed forces and security agencies were rendering sacrifices for the protection of the motherland.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, he said, had also rendered sacrifices for the continuation of democracy in the country. “Nawaz Sharif, during his exile in Saudi Arabia, was determined to fight for democracy without caring about his life,” he said.
A change could be introduced in the country by giving sacrifices as ‘musical functions’ were only waste of time, he said, referring to PTI’s sit-in. “This government is making all-out efforts to overcome the energy crisis in the country. The protesting parties should play their role in the Parliament and leave these sit-ins and protests,” he remarked.
About the metro bus service, he said this was being introduced for poor people of the country. “This is not for the rich having bungalows and big cars,” he added.
Responding to the issue of the energy crisis, he said the incumbent government had comparatively eased the energy crisis in the country. “Petroleum prices have declined and dollar lost value in the past months,” he added.
Earlier, JI lawmaker Sahibzada Tariq Ullah came down hard on the PML-N government for not solving even one problem in one and a half years.
Abdur Rashid Godil, on a point of order, said crimes were increasing in the Punjab, especially in Lahore. He condemned baton charge on the blind and thalassaemia patients. He claimed Daesh suspects were present in Lahore.
Raza Hayat Hiraj, on a point of order, expressed serious concerns over not initiating a debate on the report of Standing Committee on National Food Security . “It seems the committee chairman signed the report without reading it,” he added. On this, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi again referred the matter to the standing committee concerned.