KARACHI: In his message Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif on the occasion of World Customs Day has said that each year on 26th January, Pakistan Customs joins the other members of the World Customs Organization in observing the International Customs Day. This is indeed a good opportunity to appreciate the important work being done by Pakistan Customs in facilitating international trade, strengthening our backward and forward industrial linkages, and integrating our economy with the rest of the world.
However, this is also an opportunity for introspection. Not only do we need to understand the weaknesses that beset our customs structure, but we also need to take a fresh look at our overall taxation paradigm in the context of international best practices and the peculiar requirements of Pakistan. In this backdrop, I am pleased to share that the Federal Government has already begun work on reforming the taxation system to make all levies, impositions and tariffs business-friendly. A significant part of our larger strategy to strengthen Pakistan’s economy is to promote entrepreneurship, incentivize trade and commerce, and promote industry. An equally significant component of this strategy is to generate higher revenues for social and economic development. The two apparently conflicting objectives will be harmonized through an optimal expansion in the base of taxes rather than an increase in their rates.
From this perspective, this year’s theme of the International Customs Day Communication: Sharing information for better cooperation is very relevant. We need to learn from the experiences of other countries in taxation reform, particularly in the sphere of customs. We need to understand how they have made the best use of their human resources and the latest available information and communications technology to achieve both high revenue yields and enabling environments for their businesses. We must not restrict our study to the advanced nations of the world, which is often the case, but we should also analyze how the rapidly growing economies of Asia have achieved spectacular results in short timespans.
I am pleased to note that the Federal Board of Revenue as well as some international and national trade bodies have organized a variety of seminars and events throughout the year to facilitate dialogue and interaction between the customs authorities of different countries. These fora will provide good opportunities to Pakistan Customs and other national stakeholders to share information and achieve better connectivity, which will help in modernization of procedures, efficient enforcement, and structuring a facilitative trade regime.
In the end, I would like to commend Pakistan Customs and the Federal Board of Revenue for the strenuous efforts they have made over the past few months, especially in pursuing “information connectivity” with other customs authorities of the world. I feel confident that Pakistan Customs and the Federal Board of Revenue would play their institutional role in structuring a brighter economic future for all of us.