Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Home OP-ED Editorial Some good news at last

Some good news at last

Prime Minister Imran Khan took to twitter to congratulate the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for having crossed the Rs 4 trillion mark for the first time in revenue collection, with a month remaining in the financial year, which meant that the final collection target of Rs 4.691 trillion is doable. Most importantly, the psychological barrier of Rs 4 trillion has been broken, after three years of collection hovering around Rs 3.8 trillion. This has prompted the IMF to propose a target of Rs 5.963 trillion, though this is probably not going to get past Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, who has already said that there will be no new taxes in the coming budget, or any rise in electricity tariffs. That too will provide a modicum of relief to the common man. The FBR achievement shows that the PTI government’s experiment of brining in a Chairman, Shabbar Zaidi, from the private sector, was unnecessary. The target has been achieved by the same much-maligned taxation bureaucracy that he had come in to reform. It just goes to show that the same civil service machinery can deliver results if it is given the right direction from its political masters. Similarly, Mr Tarin’s announcement must have been cleared by the IMF, which meant, among other things, he had put before them a plan for tackling circular debt which did not involve a tariff hike. This immediately raises the question of why Mr Tarin’s predecessor, Dr Hafeez Sheikh, did not exhibit such negotiation skills. While Dr Sheikh was brought in along with Mr Zaidi, he did not do a particularly good job while he held office. Mr Tarin might seem to lack a political background as much as Dr Sheikh, but his stakes in the country are much deeper, as he headed a bank here before his present assignment, as opposed to Dr Sheikh, who came to his assignment from a stint at the World Bank. The real problem remains, that of bringing inflation down. It is the most painful for the common man, and so far, all the government has achieved is not adding to it. While that may be all very well, it should not hide the fact that the real task remains, which is to bring prices into check, so that normal existence becomes affordable.

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