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Defence budget cannot be revisited: Ishaq Dar

15 April, 2014

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WASHINGTON: Federal Minister for Finance Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar said on Monday that the defence budget could not be revisited and it was incumbent upon the government to broaden the tax net.

He announced the expanding of the tax net immediately after having successfully negotiated fresh loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank here. Addressing a press conference at the Pakistan Embassy following his four-day US tour, Dar said if taxes were not raised, more loans would have to be taken.

The finance minister said loans had to be re-paid and, as such, there was no option but to broaden the tax net. Revisiting the defence budget was not possible, while salaries and pensions of government employees were already quite low and there was no room for any cuts.

In this backdrop, Dar said the only option left for the government was to increase the tax net.A spokesman for the finance ministry, meanwhile, said that the priority of the government was to increase tax revenue by broadening the tax net and by including into the system people who were not paying their due taxes. He said in the first nine months of the currentyear, the government achieved around 17 percent increase in the tax collection as compared to the last year.

Ishaq Dar also said that things were shaping up for Pakistan's economic boost as macroeconomic stability had earned the country huge confidence of international investors and financial institutions.

Wrapping up a hectic visit to Washington, during which he had a series of meetings with World Bank, IMF and US officials, Dar said that major financial institutions now agreed with Islamabad that Pakistan's GDP growth would surpass their earlier projections.

"The World Bank and the IMF now agree that the country would chalk up a better economic growth than earlier projections and our projection for the year is 4 percent plus," he told Washington-based Pakistani journalists.

Earlier, Ishaq Dar held a very productive meeting with Ms Justine Greening, British Secretary of State for International Development in the World Bank, at Washington DC on Monday.Ms Greening expressed her pleasure on the overall progress Pakistan was making particularly in the taxation sector.

End.

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