Home Latest News P.M. Sharif Announces ‘Blue Passports’ for Top Exporters, Taxpayers

P.M. Sharif Announces ‘Blue Passports’ for Top Exporters, Taxpayers

Premier vows to treat highest taxpayers, exporters as honorary ambassadors abroad, with embassies directed to fully coordinate with them

by Staff Report
P.M. Shehbaz Sharif addresses the Tax Excellence Awards ceremony in Islamabad

Photo courtesy PID

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday termed top exporters and taxpayers as “heroes of the nation,” announcing significant incentives for them, including the issuance of blue passports normally reserved for senior government functionaries and ministers.

Addressing a ceremony at the Tax Excellence Awards, he said top exporters and taxpayers would be conferred Pakistan Honor Cards and the honorary title of ambassadors of the country abroad, with the country’s embassies directed to fully coordinate with them.

Noting the purpose of ceremony was to acknowledge the contributions of those who honestly pay taxes and serve the country with their talents through establishment of small and medium businesses, and non-traditional exports, he said he had already directed the release of Rs. 65 billion in refunds to exporters and was seeking to make this a routine matter.

Referring to prevailing economic challenges, he stressed the need for the government and private sector had to work together to overcome them. “If we want to resolve these issues, the private sector and the government have to work closely,” he said, adding the federal government—with the support of provincial governments—would address the concerns of the private sector to facilitate development.

Maintaining the government’s role was not to do business but facilitate it through policymaking, he said a nation’s voice was only heard in the comity of nations if it had sound economic health. Calling for a reversal of past mistakes, he claimed the incumbent government would put the country on the path of progress through dedicated efforts.

As part of the government’s measures, he said, he had instructed the shuttering of costly power plants operated with furnace oil. On the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), he said the government was aiming for a complete restructuring and would appoint a consultant to achieve this. He said the government’s revenue target was Rs. 9 trillion and regretted taxes of Rs. 2.7 trillion were under litigation. He called for the appointment of competent tribunal heads to expeditiously dispose of the pending litigation, adding he had appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan for speedy disposal of such cases.

Overall, he said, the country’s tax collection stood at 9 percent of GDP, which was lowest in the region, adding a huge chunk was lost to evasion. Stressing on the need to reduce tax slabs—a longstanding IMF demand—he said the country needed innovative tax initiatives. He also lamented Pakistan’s foreign debts, stressing the need to shift to exports-led growth, as well as greater emphasis on I.T. and agriculture development.

Acknowledging the need to proceed to a fresh IMF program for economic stability, he hailed the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) for accelerating investment by removing all hurdles. He also praised Pakistan’s ties with China, saying the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would expedite economic development.

Additionally, Sharif confirmed the government would outsource airports and expedite the privatization of PIA.

Also addressing the ceremony, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said taxes were essential to fund development and growth. He emphasized the need to digitize the entire system to plug loopholes and undertake structured reforms.

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