Pakistan to do trade with Afghanistan in Pak Rupee, says Shaukat Tarin

Over 15 million people to face action for failing to pay sales tax, says Shaukat Tarin

By: News Desk      Published: 04:09 PM, 9 Sep, 2021
Pakistan to do trade with Afghanistan in Pak Rupee, says Shaukat Tarin

Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin said on Thursday that the government had decided that trade with Afghanistan would be done in Pakistani Rupee, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Briefing Senate’s Committee on Finance, which met in Islamabad with Senator Talha Mehmood in the chair, he said that situation in Afghanistan was being monitored on a daily basis, and Pakistan might send its team to the country to help the Taliban stabilise the economy which had suffered a major blow following international monetary organisations withheld the country’s $9 billion and also froze its financial assets.

He said it would take a few weeks for Pakistan to know the effects of trade with the landlocked country.

He added the government planned to take the country’s GDP growth which was currently 4 per cent to 4.8 per cent in the ongoing financial year (FY).

Tarin said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had stopped issuing notices to the tax defaulters. “We have the record of over 15 million people who could pay sales tax,” he said, adding that their data had been obtained from NADRA. “They will receive a message on their cellphones. If they reply to it, it will be ok. Otherwise, action will be taken against them,” he disclosed.

He claimed that the country’s economy was improving which would further increase the growth rate. He, however, admitted that the country’s import bill witnessed an increase in August. “There is a monthly review of the country’s overall economic situation, including its imports and exports,” he said, and added that the governments in the past used to turn to international money lending organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because the economy in their times was not growing at a reasonable pace.

He informed the Senate body that Pakistan’s trade deficit stood at $4 billion.

When he was reminded by the committee chairman that when he had taken over as the finance minister, the dollar rate was Rs153, which now had soared to Rs169, Tarin replied that the Exchange Rate was currently in the same position it was supposed to be.

He informed that Kamyab Pakistan Programme would soon be launched. “We will launch the programme for the country’s poor. Earlier, the IMF had raised objections to it. Therefore, the programme, for the time being, will kick off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan only and will expand to the other parts of the country later,” he added.

Tarin was of the view that Pak Rupee’s depreciation in 2018-19 took its toll on the economy. “Presently, the inflation rate is 8.4 per cent while the food inflation stands at 10.50 per cent,” he said, and added, “The prices of food items is our biggest concern. There are times when prices of food items go up in the entire world. And we are passing through the same phase, and will control it.”

The finance minister said that ghee prices registered an increase of 90 per cent during the last year while pulses 40 to 50 per cent. “These are the items which we import from other countries,” he clarified.

He said it was the government’s endeavor to give relief to the consumers in petroleum products’ price under the head of the levy.

He further said that the government would eliminate the ‘middle man's role in order to control inflation.

Tarin revealed that Indians had hacked the FBR’s website recently. “They had done the same thing in 2019,” he said, and added, “Therefore, the department’s IT system is being updated.”

The minister said the government was reviewing the situation in Afghanistan on a daily basis and Pakistan might send its people to the country to help the Taliban government stabilise the economic situation.

Waqas Azeem