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Punjab to trim some taxes

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FAISALABAD: The Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control Department has finalised its budget proposals for the next financial year with no new tax, disclosed Punjab Minister for Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control Hafiz Mumtaz Ahmad.

Speaking to business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Saturday, he revealed that for the first time in history, the ratio of some taxes would be trimmed in the budget for fiscal year 2019-20.

He said he had already visited Lahore, Multan and Sialkot chambers to discuss the budget proposals and was visiting the Faisalabad Chamber in a bid to seek its input.

He stressed that after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, provinces must mobilise their own resources. “Currently, Punjab is generating only 20% from its own resources while for the remaining 80%, it has to depend on the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, hence, we must create maximum new resources for self-reliance,” he said. In that connection, the government was encouraging business growth so that provinces could collect maximum revenue to meet their needs, he said.

Regarding property tax, Ahmad pointed out that 80% of the total collection under the head was given to local government departments for development projects.

The provincial minister disclosed that his department was conducting a survey in collaboration with the local government and GIZ to set development priorities so that tax revenue could be spent accordingly.

“Until now, the property tax was collected only from the urban areas but in recent times, the areas around cities have also made phenomenal progress and now the department is planning to collect taxes from the properties falling within these areas,” he said.

The minister was of the view that the previous government took traditional measures to increase tax collection by enhancing the tax ratio.

Owners of luxury vehicles preferred to get registration done from Islamabad or other provinces due to a massive difference between the registration fee, he said, adding that now the registration fee had been brought in line with other provinces.

Regarding token tax, he disclosed that it would not be hiked in the upcoming provincial budget.

Responding to a question about unavailability of vehicles’ number plates, Ahmad emphasised that the current system would be replaced with universal number plates.

The minister pointed out that bids were invited for the issuance of new number plates but three months were wasted in the stay order.

“Now, a new system of number plates is being introduced and I am in contact with the police to end harassment of vehicle owners due to the unavailability of number plates,” he said. Although he agreed with a proposal of dispatching number plates through the Pakistan Post instead of TCS, he noted that a three-year agreement with TCS had already been signed and after its expiry, he would certainly review the proposal.

About narcotics control, the minister noted that this job was devolved to the provinces after the 18th Amendment but the previous government ignored the task and no tangible initiative was taken. He revealed that the department had finalised structure of a new force to combat the menace of narcotics in consultation with the Anti-Narcotics Force.

“We are also consulting police and other agencies so instead of taking action at the grass roots level, we can plug the main supply sources of narcotics,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2019.

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