ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that the government has devised a comprehensive mechanism to curb tax theft by identifying potential tax evaders and bringing them into tax net to improve revenue collection.

He was talking to media persons after inaugurating the 3-day 18th Annual General Meeting and Conference of Pakistan Society of Development Economists (PSDE).

The three-day (13-15 November) conference titled, “Economic Reforms for Productivity, Innovation and Growth” has been organised by PSDE in collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Development Economics with an aim to provide the economists a platform to share their knowledge about economic issues and help find their solutions. The federal minister said that the government has established a databank that would help it identify, with evidence, the tax evaders on the basis of their consumption of resources and lifestyle.

He said that credible way of implementation would be ensured and now the government would not just suffice on issuing the notices but would go for proper implementation. He said that it would also seek support within the society by sensitizing the people to take this issue as national issue.

Earlier, speaking at the conference, the federal minister said the tax collection ratio has increased by 21 percent as Rs.350 billion additional revenue has been collected in the financial year 2011-12, which is a highest tax growth in the history of Pakistan.

The federal minister said this year the focus would be on expanding income tax base while the government during the past year had specially focused on sales tax and had brought about many changes in the overall system.

Online adds: Sheikh said that the incumbent government has given Rs.1400 billion on electricity subsidies in last four and a half years.

Dr.Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said the government was pursuing regional balance in development focusing on Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Federally Administered Tribels Areas (FATA) where special projects have been launched to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people.

He said that after 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) award the provinces have been given more resources to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people as the government had provided Rs.5000 billion to the provinces which will help them to manage their affairs whereas under the changed formula of NFC, additional Rs.1000 billon were given to the province in the last two years. He said Rs. 260 billion were also distributed among 3 million poor families in the country.

He said the present government has spent Rs.3000 billion on Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP)and 650 federal development projects have been completed in last four and half years.

He said that the present government has eliminated 392 regulatory duties out of 397 and all 100 special duties were eliminated and the custom duty on imports has been slashed in order to open the economy to attract the foreign direct investment.

He said the issue of corruption can only be addressed by allowing institutions to work in their domain and it was first time in the history of Pakistan that Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), Supreme Court of Pakistan and other institutions including media were working independently which was a positive development.