ISLAMABAD - The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) yesterday said the government would bring a new package for offshore companies to ensure transparency, adding it would also have a clause of ‘disclosure requirement’.

“The government will bring a package for the offshore companies,” said Rehmatullah Khan Wazir, member, Inland Revenue Policy of FBR, while addressing a press conference along with other members. He further said the finance minister had directed State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to formulate a new law to bring transparency in the declaration of foreign assets, including offshore companies.

Ishaq Dar, during a post-budget press conference, had hinted to give an amnesty scheme for those who had stashed their wealth abroad, but hastily added it was just a proposal by “some people” as the government had not so far taken a decision on it.

Wazir said Dubai was reluctant to share details of the Pakistanis who had invested there, despite writing several letters. Only 0.7 percent of Pakistan’s population was filing income tax returns as against 4.5pc of Indians. “The government can generate additional revenue of Rs 136 billion if number of tax filers in Pakistan equals the Indian number,” he added. He revealed currently over 1.1 million taxpayers were registered with the FBR of whom 0.309 million were salaried persons.

The FBR member termed the revenue collection target of Rs 3,621 billion realistic, which would be achieved with the help of 5.7 percent expected GDP growth and revenue collection measures of Rs 150 billion during the next financial year 2016-2017. The government has imposed Rs 115 billion direct taxes in the budget.

Talking about the recently announced tax amnesty scheme, he said around 10,000 non-taxpayers had filed their tax returns and a working capital of Rs 85 billion was declared by them. The government had also generated Rs 850 million from the scheme.

On broadening of tax base, he said number of tax filers had enhanced by 25 percent during the last three years. The government had also established a cell in the FBR, which was finding the people who were leading a prosperous life, but were evading taxes. Notices had been issued by the FBR to around 0.4 million non-taxpayers.

Wazir said the government had introduced zero-rated regime for the five export-oriented sectors that would help increase exports besides resolving the longstanding issue of tax refund.

Dr Muhammad Iqbal, member (Strategic Planning, Reforms & Statistics), said the government had withdrawn the zero-rated facility on stationary items due to its misuse, as they were increasing the prices despite enjoying zero-rating. He said tax on Pakistan Cricket Board which was rendering services outside the country would increase to four percent from the existing one percent in the new budget.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 07-Jun-2016 here.