FBR not to reduce GST below 17 percent on petroleum products

KARACHI: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to maintain general sales tax at 17 percent on all petroleum products in coming months as agreed by the Pakistani authorities with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Pakistan has committed with the IMF for taking many steps for curbing powers of authorities in issuing statutory regulatory orders (SROs), eliminating exemptions and maintaining GST on petroleum products at 17 percent.

Through SRO 700(I)/2019 dated June 30, 2019, the FBR notified sales tax at 17 percent on supply of all petroleum products for the month of July 2019. The petroleum products are included: petrol, high speed diesel, kerosene oil and light speed diesel oil.

The Letter of Intent (LoI) presented by Pakistan for IMF loan program, the country assured the fund of eliminate the legal authorization for the executive to grant tax exemptions/concessions through Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) without prior National Assembly approval.

“We understand that the use of SRO needs to be subject to greater scrutiny and limited discretion. To that end, we have adopted the necessary revisions and amendments to the various relevant tax ordinances to further limit or eliminate the use of SROs to genuine emergencies, in line with best international practices,” according to the LoI.

The authorities have also assured the Fund of refraining from issuing any SRO reducing the GST rate below 17 percent on petroleum products.

For Modernize the Public Finance Management Framework, Pakistan has adopted an organic budget law that will minimize variance in budget authorizations during the year, which shall also require ex-post parliamentary approval, restrict virements, expand the content of annual budget statements, define accounting standards, and provide the legal basis for a well-defined cash management system and establishment of a treasury single account (TSA).

For Enforcing fiscal discipline, this will include strengthening the enforcement mechanism of the FRDLA through aligning the annual report presented by the Minister of Finance (MoF) to the National Assembly with the content and analysis prescribed in the Act. “Also, we will expand the capacity of the MoF for macro-fiscal work. Moreover, proper identification and monitoring of fiscal risks from SOEs, PPPs, IPPs and development projects will be strengthened through the establishment of a fiscal risk unit in the MoF, which will work in coordination with the PPP Authority.

“We are aware that PPP projects, while bringing great benefits, can also be the source of important risks. Thus, we are committed to strengthening the PPP legal framework. To this end, we are conducting a legal analysis of the current system to determine if amendments to the PPP law are required or, alternatively, whether enacting secondary legislation is sufficient, drawing on the expertise of our development partners.

“We will also make sure that proposed financial vehicles such as the Pakistan Infrastructure Bank is created in line with best international governance standards.”

Pakistani authorities informed the Fund about creating a Treasury office that would conduct sound commitment controls and cash management, closely coordinating with the debt management unit.

“We will strengthen the debt management office and will ensure greater coordination across the different relevant units. Elements of this strategy will include centralizing the issuance and management of public debt and developing a new Medium-Term Debt Strategy. To support our consolidation efforts and reduce our financing requirements, we will lengthen the maturity profile of public debt and will introduce new market instruments to widen the investors’ base, also transparently accounting for all borrowing and contingent liabilities.

“We will ensure that any collateralized public external debt or external arrears would be properly accounted.”

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