However, there is a catch this time for non-participants: those who fail to avail this opportunity of obtaining clean slates and joining the tax net, face the risk of their National Identity Cards (NICs) and passports getting invalidated and their bank accounts being frozen.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Nasreen Jalil, FBR Senior Member Inland Revenue Service Asrar Rauf said delinquent taxpayers would be able to benefit from these two schemes by December 31 this year, if the finance ministry approved them.
“If the people do not avail these schemes, they may face cancellation of their National Identity Cards (NICs) and passports, and their bank accounts may be frozen,” Rauf said, adding that their names would also be placed on the defaulters’ list.
The FBR scheme, which is being put forward as an opportunity to encourage non-taxpayers to pay their due tax, is expected to bring a huge number of people into the tax net with the expected revenue estimated at Rs196 billion.
Furthermore, Rauf informed the committee that tax authorities had already identified 1.78 million families across the country involved in frequent foreign travels, spending huge amounts on their utilities and other functions. He said the amnesty schemes would allow such families to legalise their hidden assets after paying Rs40,000 and registering as taxpayers.
Oil price revisions
FBR officials also claimed that weekly oil price revisions had resulted in loss of revenue to the national exchequer.
“The government has lost revenue worth Rs7 billion due to the weekly review of oil prices,” an FBR official told the committee members who strongly opposed the weekly price revision of oil products, and recommended switching back to setting prices on a monthly basis.
Meanwhile, the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) officials informed the parliamentary committee that it had failed to arrange financing for the $12 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam.
“The World Bank says that investment for Diamer-Bhasha dam is at risk due to the government of Pakistan’s failure to arrange funds for the dam,” an EAD official said.
However, officials said the US had committed approximately $220 million for the dam, adding that even though the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had never pledged any money for the project, there are estimates that ADB may extend a loan of $3 to 4 billion, if it approved funding for the project.
PR, NTDC loans
Meanwhile, top EAD officials also revealed that Pakistan Railways (PR) and National Transmission Dispatch Company (NTDC) had bypassed EAD and violated the rules of business by signing loan agreements with China amounting to $817.60 million for four projects.
The parliamentary panel sought a detailed briefing from PR, NTDC and the Planning Commission to decide if the case would be referred to the National Accountability Bureau.