LAHORE - The business community has called for major changes in tax authority, besides getting rid of the external influence to achieve the target of self-reliance and economic stability.

LCCI standing committee on economic reforms chairman Kashif Anwar stressed the need of major reforms in tax system, asking the new government to seriously concentrate on broadening the tax base where every Pakistani will have to pay their due share in taxes, which is only way to move forward on the path of growth and prosperity.

He said that according to the commitment of the new government it should start working on bringing reforms in economy, making plan for new tax system, appointing honest and experienced officer in FBR and giving it full autonomy with no political interference in tax affairs.

The former LCCI vice president suggested that the overall policy framework should be strengthened and implemented otherwise Pakistan may face a default in its external transactions. There are three critical areas where deep reforms are required in the domain of trade, fiscal and monetary policies, he added.

Kashif Anwar stated that the government must support export sector. He said instead of addressing structural issues, which would have attracted non-debt inflows, the previous governments preferred to obtain expensive foreign loans for inflating its reserves which was now proving a costly choice.

He said the current business models needed to be replaced with new and innovative ones in order to oversimplify the business culture and attract more locals to take risk of investing in every sector and laying down the foundation of powerful economy. He said that the taxation system needs reforms, based on ground realities and with due consultation of stakeholders to ensure result-oriented policies for the businessmen.

He said over the years the Federal Board of Revenue could not satisfy all the stakeholders, including the state as well as the taxpayers with just 1.2 million tax return filers out of a population of around 210 million.

This is reflected in the international ranking on paying taxes where Pakistan is currently at 172nd place out of 190 countries.

He said neither the existing system was economically neutral, taxpayer-friendly, equitable and progressive nor did it facilitate and support healthy business activities.

Taxation is of course an important source of revenue collection, but tax policies must be based on best international practices and universally accepted canons of taxation, he concluded.