ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided in principle to move towards replacing the existing General Sales Tax (GST) with Value Added Tax (VAT) across the board for all sectors under the World Bank funded loan conditions, The News reported.

Under the proposed reform plan on which the implementation was so far deferred till establishment of Pakistan Revenue Authority (PRA) and holding of consultation with all stakeholders, it has been decided in principle that the FBR will move gradually towards replacing the existing GST and come up with the VAT mode across the board for all sectors to ensure effective collection of real due taxes.

“In this regard, the FBR will conduct assessment surveys of different industrial/business segments under proposed reform plan,” top official sources confirmed to The News here on Wednesday.

When contacted, FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidisaid that the FBR would ultimately move towards full implementation on VAT in order to bring all sectors for contributing in country’s taxation system. He said that the CNIC condition was a move towards implementing the VAT and FBR stood firm on it. He said that the establishment of PRA was deferred for time being but all other reforms including moving towards VAT was part of the overall reform agenda of the FBR.

It is relevant to mention here that the efforts made by FBR in the past to put in place VAT had miserably failed and once it had resulted in suspension of IMF sponsored programme during the PPP-led regime in 2011. So it is yet to see whether the PTI-led regime will be able to face resistance in the way of moving towards VAT or abandon its move in halfway keeping in view political consideration because it would face stiff opposition from different quarters concerned which are reluctant to become part of documentation drive. The government and traders had recently struck an agreement but its implementation had already started facing different kind of practical problems because the traders did not want to come into tax net at any cost.

The proposed reform plan envisages that VAT instead of GST needs to be gradually implemented within 2 to 4 years to enhance revenues, broaden the tax-base and assist in documentation of economy. The FBR plans fully implementation on the VAT regime for all business segments over next 2-4 years under the WB funded loan project, added the official.

It is proposed that the Director General (DG) Input-Output Coefficient Organization (IOCO-IR) would be re-designated as DG IOCO and VAT Compliance-Functional lead for VAT implementation.

Under the plan, the Commissioner Broadening the Tax Base (BTB) at each Regional Tax Office/Large Taxpayer Unit will be responsible for business level implementation whereas Assistant Commissioner of respective RTO/LTU for Value Chain Evaluation and VAT implementation will have such responsibilities.

The roadmap for VAT implementation also envisages that it would be progressively implemented across various segments commencing with Third Schedule (retail price items) products and gradually absorbing complex value chain products. The FBR will also ensure enactment of the VAT related legislation, rules and regulations, if required. The capacity building of FBR for absorption of VAT regime (including database development and process automation) is also part of the plan.

The FBR will also finalise stages and complexities in each product value chain with time and resources for VAT assessment surveys of particular industrial/business segment. The reform plan proposed that the political considerations-voters constituencies and support of business communities/industrialists would also be taken into consideration for finalising its roadmap.

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