ISLAMABAD  - Federal Policy Roundtable Dialogue of the project “Citizens’ Voice and Public Accountability in Tax Collection Sector’ Governance Institutes Network International (GINI), an NGO, conducted the roundtable dialogue here on Tuesday.

GINI with the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under its Citizens’ Voice Project has successfully implemented the project titled “Citizens’ Voice and Public Accountability in Tax Collection Sector” in three districts of central Punjab - Sargodha, Faisalabad and Gujranwala - with policy coordination at federal level during 2012-13. While talking to media, Amjad Pervaiz, Country Manager at GINI, said, that Pakistan’s revenue collection is poor and currently worsening.

The tax to GDP ratio remains below 10 per cent. He further added that the poor revenue collection stems from long ignored structural problems in tax policy and administration. Tax policy is skewed on a number of dimensions, which undermine revenue generation, efficiency and equity.

Firstly, the tax base is exceptionally narrow, drawing only 3.9 per cent of the employed work force into the tax net. Secondly, unnecessary loopholes, contradictions and complications in the law incentivize evasion and avoidance, and penalize compliance. Income from capital gains goes largely untaxed while wage earners bear a far greater burden. Generous exemptions, preferential rates and tax credits limit the reach of the income tax net. President ICCI Shaban said that the involvement of citizens and civil society is essential for tax reform along with provision of services and social benefits to the Tax payers for sustained Tax revenue and Tax net expansion. Naina Nasir Ali, President Women Chambers of Commerce and Industries, emphasized the encouraging role of women in business and entrepreneurship to boost the economy of country during last two decade.

Women are part of traders’ community and managing the affairs of small and medium as well as large scale business ownerships and sole proprietorship, she said. Ijaz Hussain, a researcher and development economist from Gujranwala, explained GINI’s efforts and impact of the intervention supported by USAID under Citizens’ Voice Project through evidence collected in baseline and endline studies conducted with the support of local NGOs/CSOs of more than 450 respondents. The event was attended by, political parties members from districts of focus, government officials, international donors, officials of Federal Board of Revenue, anti-corruption departments, relevant public bodies, tax analysts and researchers, CSOs/NGOs (including network partners), media personnel, President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries, President of Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries and most importantly the small enterprise owners paying sales tax.