ISLAMABAD - Vowing to spend taxes on public welfare, Prime Minister Imran Khan has again appealed to people to avail the tax amnesty scheme.

“The government will not provide another opportunity of disclosing assets after the Assets Declaration Scheme 2019 to expire on June 30,” he said in a private TV programme on Monday .

Following the deadling, the government would take action by seizing undeclaired properties and imposing fines on taxevaders.

The PM continued: “Pakistan is at a crossroads where we have to go to either destruction or change ourselves by paying our taxes. The successive governments massively borrowed in the last 10 years instead of increasing tax collection. Half of the tax collection of the country goes into debt servicing every year. We need to get out of this quicksand. We have to change ourselves. In the 60s, Pakistan was on the rise. But we don’t pay taxes. There’s too much corruption here.”

Imran said the incumbent government reduced its expenditure. “The PM office had decreased its expenditure by 30 percent, federal cabinet reduced salaries by 10 percent, and the Pakistan Army decided to freeze its budget.”

He insisted that no government department would harass the people if they disclose their hidden assets under the existing tax amnesty scheme.

He said: “The country cannot run without tax collection. Pakistan is one of the countries where a good amount is given in charity, but tax payment is very low,

The PM clarified that politicians and public office holders could not avail the scheme.

He revealed that around $10 billion money laundering took place in the country every year whereas Pakistan is seeking $6 billion from the IMF.

The PTI government announced that the Assets Declaration Scheme 2019 is the last opportunity for the people to declare their hidden assets by paying nominal tax by June 30.

Otherwise, they should ready to face the music.

Economic wizards of the government also clarified that the government was not considering extending the ‘Assets Declaration Scheme 2019’.

They said that this was the first and final tax amnesty scheme of the incumbent government, which is easy and straightforward to avail.

Adviser to PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue Shabbar Zaidi responded to the queries of businesspersons and common people on the scheme on the private news channel.

Hafeez said that the government had introduced the scheme to document the economy and to broaden the tax base of the country.

He said people could declare their undisclosed assets by paying nominal tax. He said that Pakistan tax to GDP ratio is very low at 11-12 percent. He vowed to give protection to those who avail the scheme.

Hammad Azhar clarified that this was the first and last tax amnesty scheme of the government. He also made it clear that the scheme would not be extended beyond June 30.  The people, who donot avail it, would be unlucky as the government would initiate legal action against them.

The government would increase the tax to GDP ratio by 3-4 percent in the next three years by bringing non-taxpayers into tax net. He said the scheme had not introduced to generate revenues but to broaden the tax base of the country.

The government had already finalized rules for the Benami Act, which would be used against those who would not declare their assets after the scheme. It government could seize the Benami properties. The government had integrated the data of non-taxpayers from various sources.

Similarly, the government had received information about 1,52,000 offshore companies in 28 countries. Meanwhile, the country would receive more information about offshore companies from 10 more countries in a few months.

The state minister said that government is working to simplify the tax returns system.“We are bringing in a system where people could file their returns through mobile phones. The government would not harass the people.”

The FBR chairman said the exiting scheme is beyond the tax amnesty scheme. “The people could clear their past sales tax liabilities by paying only two percent. The overseas Pakistanis should not worry if they are paying taxes in other countries.” He also clarified the FBR would not take action against those who availed the previous tax amnesty scheme introduced by the PML-N government.