ISLAMABAD

Outgoing FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa has said country’s tax-to-GDP ratio has crossed 11 per cent while the number of taxpayers filing their tax returns is also set to cross one million mark for the first time in Pakistan.

“When I took over as FBR Chairman, I had a vision and an understanding of where we wanted to be, and I am happy to say that I am leaving FBR with many milestones crossed and accomplishments achieved,” he said while addressing a ceremony held in FBR headquarters to honour outgoing chairman Tariq Bajwa and welcome the incoming chairman FBR Nisar Muhammad Khan.

Bajwa paid glowing tributes to what he called “the integrity, commitment and hard work of FBR officers” which helped him raise the revenue from Rs 1800 billion of two years ago to nearly Rs 2600 billion in the fiscal ended this year. “Any tax-collecting authority is judged on basis of its performance vis-a-vis tax-to-GDP ratio and for the first time in 10 years, we have achieved 11% tax-to-GDP which is indicative of the right trajectory in which the organisation is moving to make the country economically self-reliant,” he said.

Tariq Bajwa said one key area he keenly focused on was audit. This had been almost dysfunctional three years ago, but it has been made fully functional during the last two years, with nearly 7000 cases being audited every year, and has a current target of over 70,000 audits this year.

The outgoing chairman also referred to massive tax exemptions of over Rs 230 billion enjoyed by different sectors previously. He and his team at FBR were able to convince government to withdraw these exemptions so as to bring about uniformity in the tax culture. “What gives me satisfaction is that all this was achieved without any noticeable protest or remonstration from any side. This is indicative of the trust and confidence the government and the businesses had in us and in the transparency with which this was done,” he said.

Earlier, incoming chairman Nisar Muhammad Khan paid glowing tributes to the outgoing chairman for his leadership and initiatives he had taken to revolutionize FBR and turn it into an efficient, modern and credible organization. He said Bajwa leaves behind a glorious legacy of professionalism, integrity, dedication and commitment he displayed throughout his time in FBR. “Under Mr Bajwa, FBR made great strides in the arena of long-delayed reforms in tax policy, accelerating audit, broadening of tax base, IT-enablement of services and welfare of officers,” he said, adding that he and his team would continue with this and carry forward the tradition of hard work and professionalism in meeting revenue collection target and broadening the tax base.

Other outgoing members, including Shahid Hussain Asad, Sr Member Inland Revenue Policy, Muhammad Ashraf, Sr Member Operations and Shahid Hussain Jatoi, Member Administration, also spoke on the occasion and shared their thoughts on the time spent, work done and associations made in FBR. They all wished the new team at FBR very well in its endeavours.

The incoming team of FBR leadership is: Rehmat Ullah Wazir, Member Tax Policy, Nasir Masroor, Member Customs, Dr Muhammad Irshad, Member Operations, and Waqar Ahmed, Member Administration. All these officers earlier worked in FBR field offices and have demonstrated their abilities in delivering admirable results.