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July 6, 2020

Overseas investors’ body hails appointment of Shabbar Zaidi as FBR chairman

KARACHI, Pakistan: The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), has appreciated the appointment of eminent tax expert Shabbar Zaidi as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Commenting on the appointment, OICCI President Shazia Syed said Zaidi was a well-respected tax professional who has been closely associated with tax policy and administration in Pakistan for many years.

“His appointment as the FBR chairman by the government is very commendable as it will strengthen the FBR capacity substantially,” he said.

Shazia also voiced hope that with full support from a well-experienced and large FBR team, the new FBR chairman would be able to lead the needed transformation of the tax culture and significantly boost the tax collection, in line with the true revenue potential of the economy.

The OICCI president recalled that in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business (EODB) rating, Pakistan was assessed as the 17th worst country in the world on the parameter of ‘paying taxes’.

“The OICCI is hopeful that with a rejuvenated FBR, supported by close coordination among the provincial tax authorities, and government’s clear direction to improve on EODB, the country will significantly improve its EODB rating,” she said.

Shazia said the recently concluded IMF–Pakistan staff level agreement also recommended tangible actions to revamp the tax regime and boost the tax to GDP ratio in line with the relevant international standards.

She said the OICCI members comprising of leading multinationals operating in Pakistan contribute about one-third of the total tax collection.

The OICCI has already submitted a series of progressive taxation proposals for the 2019-20 fiscal budget to the FBR. The proposals mainly focus on facilitating investment and growth in the economy, including the need for long-term incentives to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) in the large greenfield and job-creating manufacturing facilities and ensuring implementation of predictable, consistent and transparent policies.

The OICCI has also raised serious concerns on the booming illicit trade with significant damage to the revenue base of the economy and urged the authorities to re-visit Afghan Transit Trade agreement supported by structural reforms in Customs to stop the highly visible availability of smuggled foreign FMCG products.

The overseas investors’ body has also given workable recommendations, including the use of IT technology, for substantially improving the documentation of the economy and broadening of the tax base, besides reducing the frequency of interaction of the tax officials with the compliant taxpayer.