ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday directed the Tax Reforms Commission to finalise its recommendations for improving the country’s taxation system, which could be reflected in the forthcoming budget as preparations for it had already been initiated.

He made these remarks during a meeting with Tax Reforms Commission Chairman Masood Naqvi. Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance were also present.

Naqvi briefed the minister about the work undertaken by various committees and inputs/suggestions given by the members which, he said, would certainly prove beneficial in betterment of the tax collection system and facilitation of the tax payers at large.

Chairman Naqvi said that the Commission while finalizing its report would encompass suggestions from all the members and the report would be compiled in a manner that it reflected point of view of all the stakeholders. He said there were areas on which recommendations had already been finalized and the Commission would next convene its meeting in early March.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also chaired an Inter-Ministerial meeting on Implementation Status of the Decisions of the Pak-Afghanistan JEC meeting between held on November 13, 2014.

The minister was informed that among the most significant projects, there was speedy headway being made with regard to CASA 1000. Issues like energy pricing, payment guarantees etc were finalized in Working Group Meetings held in November-Dec 2014. Ministry of Communication gave its input about Torkham-Jalalabad Additional Carriageway saying the ECNEC had approved its revised cost and it was processing request for release of funds.

Representative of the Ministry of Railways briefed the minister about the Chaman-Spinboldak Rail Link project. The minister was informed that project activities would be started in tandem with the construction of Kandhar-Spinboldak section by Afghanistan..

Representative of the Ministry of Port and Shipping informed the Minister that the Afghan side had requested for trade facilitation and sought storage space at ports in Pakistan. He said there was ample storage space available at Port Qasim and if more storage space was required Port Qasim Authority would extend that on monthly rental basis. The minister was apprised facilities had been made available at ports for Afghan cargo and that requirement of scanning of Afghan transit cargo would be also be reduced. The minister appreciated Scholarship Scheme for Afghan Students undertaken by the HEC. He was briefed that HEC arranged admission of 609 Afghan students including 524 in public sector universities and 85 in private universities.

Approximately 400 students had joined already, the minister was further told. The minister, while appreciating the progress so far achieved by various ministries said that fast track implementation on the decisions taken at the Pak-Afghan JEC was common desire of leadership of both the countries. He asked all the concerned ministries and departments to maintain active liaison among them and with their Afghan counterparts to ensure the decisions were implemented in letter and spirit.