In a historic development and a special ceremony organized at Prime Minister’s Office here on Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan unveiled FBR’s Track & Trace System on Sugar Sector. Advisor to the PM on Finance & Revenue Mr. Shaukat Tarin, Cabinet Members, Parliamentarians, Federal Secretaries, office bearers of Sugar Mills Association, Chairman FBR Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed and senior officers of FBR attended the graceful ceremony.
Addressing on the occasion, the Prime Minister called the roll out of the Track & Trace System (TTS) a watershed event in the development of Pakistan’s economy and hoped that it would lead to much-needed economic prosperity in times to come. “It is an integrated, technology based solution that shall ensure accurate reporting of production volumes through real time monitoring of manufacturing by affixation of tax stamps, improve quality control and thus ensure increased revenue collection,” he added.
Prime Minister further said that at the time of assuming office, the government had inherited a dismal economic situation, and was confronted with multiple challenges. “Our revenue collection system was one of the weakest in the world, with a chronically low Tax-to-GDP ratio. We were unable to effectively mobilize our own resources for the well-being of the people,” he recalled. He emphasized that the present government was committed to bringing about change, and putting Pakistan on the path of self-sufficiency and in this regard the pivotal role of FBR could not be over-emphasized. “One of our immediate priorities was to identify how to improve monitoring mechanism and increase revenue collection,” he added.
The Prime Minister continued by saying that the present government was the first one to break the nexus of tax evaders, vested interests and mafias. “We have not been afraid of taking difficult decisions nor shied away from plugging loopholes by enacting legislation that restricts corrupt practices and ensures transparency and fairness,” he continued. He added that the vested interests resisted our drive and efforts to improve regulatory oversight of the economy despite knowing that without sound economic practices and enhanced revenue collection, we would not be able to allocate funds for human development, infrastructural improvement, health, and education sector.
He said that one of the central tenets of present government’s economic policy had been to bring about increased digitization and automation of the entire tax apparatus as a means to reduce opportunities for graft, coercion and theft. “Track and Trace System will serve as a central pillar of that economic policy and shall revolutionize tax collection across Pakistan,” he added.
The Prime Minister stated that the previous governments had made half-hearted attempts to introduce the TTS but despite five attempts over a period of a decade, they were unable to implement the system. “We too faced a monumental challenge in our attempt to bring about this paradigm shift and a barrage of lawsuits and threats. However, we persevered and were able to counter the legal challenges because of a robust policy and regulatory framework which provided the relevant guidelines for our decision making,” the Prime Minister remarked.
In the end, he generously appreciated Chairman and Team FBR for an outstanding performance in continuously achieving the assigned budgetary targets and sounded very optimistic that FBR will be able to collect Rs. 6 Trillion by the end of current financial year. He commended FBR for their untiring efforts to implement the TTS in the shortest possible time and acknowledged the role of licensee, AJCL/Authentix Consortium for spearheading its execution.
The Advisor to the PM on Finance & Revenue Mr. Shaukat Tarin, while speaking on the occasion, thanked the Prime Minister for showing his keen interest and participating in the inaugural ceremony for launch of Track and Trace System on Sugar Sector. He also congratulated FBR for their persistent endeavors to launch this very important project. He also commended Sugar Mills Association for extending whole hearted cooperation for making this innovative intervention possible. “All 78 sugar mills have signed Tri-partite agreements amongst sugar mills, consortium (licensee) and FBR at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad,” he added. He further assured the Prime Minister that through introduction of technology in tax system, FBR will be able to broaden the tax base as efforts were already afoot to collaborate with NADRA and use artificial intelligence and mathematical modelling to ascertain the potential tax return filers. He informed the audience that FBR had collected reliable information about 15 million individuals who were taxable income but not filing tax returns. These potential filers will soon be mobilized to discharge their national obligation by becoming taxpayers.
“The FBR enforcement officials will verify the validity of the stamps through different forensic instruments. Moreover, citizens of Pakistan will also be able to check and help with enforcement by reporting any fake stamps through mobile App,” he further added.
The Chairman FBR, Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, in his presentation explained the scope and significance of this high valued digital intervention. He stated that several attempts were made at introducing the Track and Trace System in Pakistan starting in 2008 and over a period of 13 years there were 5 unsuccessful attempts which failed due to lack of expertise, want of political will, corruption and other unethical practices. “The present government took a very bold step and provided FBR with strong support to implement Track and Trace System not just in Tobacco, as previously planned but added more sectors like Sugar, Cement and Fertilizers,” he added. He also informed the audience that FBR intends to expand the scope of TTS to other key sectors which include Beverages, Petroleum, Pharmaceuticals and Steel and soon a proposal in this regard will be submitted to Prime Minister for his approval. He positively hoped that this key intervention in Sugar Sector shall yield more revenues, minimize human interaction between FBR and taxpayers and thus ensure ease of doing business.
He reaffirmed his resolve to maximize efforts to expand digitization to all key sectors in order to ensure transparency, plug leakages and thus maximize revenue potential. He concluded by thanking Sugar Mills Association for their cooperation in rolling out this important initiative and also appreciated the technical support provided by the licensed consortium in making this key digital intervention possible.