ISLAMABAD - The government on Wednesday admitted that it is considering an amnesty scheme for Pakistanis to declare their foreign assets by paying a nominal tax to broaden the tax base of the country.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Dr Muhammad Irshad informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that they had received a proposal of declaring foreign assets by paying a tax. The FBR is considering the proposal, he added.

The committee members showed mixed reaction on the proposed amnesty scheme. The committee chairman Qaiser Ahmed Shaikh said that tax reforms commission had proposed to announce such scheme by paying only 15 percent tax on the foreign assets . He opposed the tax rate and said that it should be only five percent in order to broaden tax base of the country.

The Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry also proposed to charge only five percent for declaring foreign assets . However, PTI’s MNA Asad Umar strongly opposed the scheme. He said that the government is facilitating the non-taxpayers of the country by announcing an amnesty scheme. He said that government is announcing amnesty scheme every years but it has failed to achieve desired results of bringing non-taxpayers into tax base. The government should charge full tax, around 35 percent, from those who wants to declare their foreign assets , he added.

“The government will give amnesty scheme under Foreign Asset Tax Bill, 2017, which is in considering to the FBR,” said an official of the FBR while talking to The Nation. He further said that FBR had not information about exact amount of Pakistanis assets placed in other countries. However, he said that Pakistanis have kept about $150 billion worth of assets abroad, as per AF Ferguson’s assessment.

The committee did not take any decision on the proposal of amnesty scheme and decided to further discuss it in next meeting. The committee also discussed the budget proposals of the business community. It recommended increasing sales tax readjustment to 100 percent from existing 90 percent. The committee also proposed to reduce the withholding tax on banking transaction to 0.2 percent from existing 0.4 percent.

While considering the matter pertaining to Pthalatic Anhydride (PA), Di-Octyle Phthalate and Alkyd Resin. The Committee recommended to FBR to resolve the matter with the consultation of the stakeholders.

The meeting was attended by Saaed Ahmed Khan Manais, Daniyal Aziz, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Tallal Chaudhary, Shizra Mansab Ali Khan Kharral, Sheikh Fayyazud Din, Nafisa Shah, Syed Mustafa Mehmood, Asad Umar, Muhammad Ali Rashid, Sajida Begum (Mover), MNAs, besides the senior officers from Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Pakistan, Auditor General of Pakistan, PREIF president and presidents of various chambers of commerce and industries etc.