Pakistan is firmly committed to fighting tax evasion and other illicit financial flows and needs more international cooperation for cross-border assistance in tax recovery, Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Wednesday.
Addressing the Plenary Meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes 2020, organised by the OECD, the finance adviser appreciated the technical support extended by the Global Forum and the UK government which was instrumental in implementing the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
Noting that Pakistan has achieved important milestones in transparency and exchange of information, he said that at present the country was one of the few developing countries among the early adopters of CRS and began exchanging data with partner jurisdictions in less than two years.
The adviser outlined that Tax Transparency and Exchange of Information (EOI) are powerful tools to enhance tax compliance.
The adviser also briefed the forum about the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic and measures taken by the government to mitigate sufferings of the vulnerable groups.
During the first wave of Covid-19, the government introduced ‘smart lockdown’ to contain the spread of the disease with the need to keep the economy functional.
The ‘smart lockdown’ approach of Pakistan was acknowledged worldwide and it allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact during testing times. The government gave cash payments to 15 million families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Payments.
Amid Covid-19, the government has taken several initiatives to accelerate economic recovery. A relief package for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) shielded against insolvency and joblessness, the adviser briefed.
Similarly, a special package was announced to boost the construction sector which included an amnesty scheme, tax exemption and Rs33 billion subsidy to stimulate economic growth, he said.
The meeting was informed that Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and FDI during first quarter of 2020-21.
The government is firmly committed to correct fundamentals of the economy through effective policy making and targeted reforms, Dr Shaikh said, adding the end goal was to achieve sustainable economic growth.