Pakistan collects $967m through tax amnesty scheme

A Pakistani currency dealer counts USD banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Karachi on August 1, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Pakistan collects $967m through tax amnesty scheme

  • Over 75,000 Pakistanis have availed domestic and offshore tax amnesty scheme
  • Pakistan intends to broaden its tax base from 1.2 million to 30 million individuals

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government has collected $967.28 million through a tax amnesty scheme that allowed people to declare their hidden domestic and offshore assets by paying a nominal 2-5 percent tax on them.

The scheme was launched by the previous government on April 10, and was scheduled to expire on June 30. The caretaker government extended the deadline to July 31 to allow more people to benefit.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response from people in Pakistan and abroad. The tax amnesty scheme has been successful,” Dr. Mohammed Iqbal, a member of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), told Arab News. The scheme will not be further extended, he said.
More than 75,000 Pakistanis have made use of the amnesty, FBR officials said. But senior economist Dr. Athar Ahmed said the government was expecting at least four times more revenue than it collected under the amnesty.
“The potential target of this scheme were Pakistanis who have trillions of dollars in offshore assets, but the tax collection shows only a fraction of them have declared their assets through the scheme,” he told Arab News.
“Pakistan needs to introduce cogent tax reforms to bring the maximum number of people into the tax net,” he said. 
“Measures like the amnesty scheme are good in the short term, but provide no relief to the economy in the long run.”
Saqib Hameed, a tax expert who works for a consultancy firm in Islamabad, told Arab News that the amnesty “will definitely help improve Pakistan’s economy, as people who’ve benefited from the scheme have now become permanent tax payers.”
But such schemes are temporary measures, he said, adding: “The authorities need to initiate a wider crackdown against tax evaders and tax defaulters to increase revenue.”


US trade negotiators to visit China for fresh round of talks

Updated 21 March 2019
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US trade negotiators to visit China for fresh round of talks

  • Washington and Beijing are battling over the final shape of a trade deal
  • American officials are demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy

BEIJING: US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit China on March 28-29 for a fresh round of talks aimed at resolving the bruising trade war, the Chinese commerce ministry said Thursday.
After their visit, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will head to the United States in April to continue the negotiations, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a press briefing.
Washington and Beijing are battling over the final shape of a trade deal, with American officials demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy.
President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that US tariffs on Chinese imports could remain in place for a “substantial period,” dampening hopes that an agreement would see them lifted soon.
Over the last eight months, the United States and China have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way goods trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.
On Friday, China’s rubber-stamp parliament approved a foreign investment law to strengthen protections for intellectual property — a central US grievance — but critics said the bill was rammed through without sufficient time for input from businesses.