Islamabad - Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Tariq Bajwa on Wednesday said that Pakistan lacked a culture of tax compliance.

He was addressing a large gathering of students attending a ‘Tax Fair’ organised by FBR at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad. The event was organised in collaboration with School of Social Sciences & Humanities of NUST and Gesellschaft International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) which is assisting FBR under its good governance programme.

Tariq Bajwa who attended the ‘Tax Fair’ along with senior officials of FBR, said the government was determined to raise the tax-to-GDP ratio and broaden the tax base by adding 100,000 potential taxpayers every year to the tax net. “Last year, we added about 100,000 new taxpayers and we plan to raise another 100,000 this year to boost the tax revenues,” he said.

The FBR Chairman invited the student community to be the agents of change and promote discussion on social media and also within their circles on different facets of taxation. “I expect you to expand social media discussion on taxes to a critical mass that prompts an actual change in society,” he added.  

Speaking on the occasion, leading economist Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan who is also the Dean of NUST Business School, dilated upon how the resource-starved Pakistan was amongst IMF’s most frequent nine borrowers out of its total 199 members, and how even Friends of Pakistan felt reluctant to loan to Pakistan, arguing why their taxpayers should be so penalised when a large swathe of population in Pakistan is not tax compliant.  

He stressed the importance of economic sovereignty for Pakistan, and how “our youth at 100 million under 22 years of age, can be the catalyst to bring such change”.  He welcomed the FBR’s initiative to tap the energy and dynamism of youth in its efforts for broadening of tax base.

Later, Member Facilitation and Taxpayer Education FBR, Nadeem Dar explained the purpose and scope of ‘Tax Fair’ which, he said, was the first of a series of activities planned as part of a “Tax Change Agent” campaign. It will be replicated at other leading educational institutes of the country under the theme ‘Banaey Naujawan, Behtar Pakistan’.

The idea to engage student community in creating a tax culture that advocates voluntary tax compliance is conceived following similar exercises in other countries. The ‘Change Agent Campaign’ will motivate the youth to influence public opinion by engaging their peers, friends and relatives to contribute in nation building by filing correct tax returns and paying their due share of taxes voluntarily.

The event included interactive sessions of students with FBR’s tax officials. Many students with initiative and leadership skills came forward to act as change agents for promoting a tax culture in Pakistan. These game changers will interact within their social circles, influencing minds to awaken a national spirit leading towards a tax-compliant culture.