ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Friday said that a third-party audit will be carried out of the tax defaulters and that FBR would not harass anyone anymore. Speaking on the budget for FY2021-22 in the Senate, the finance minister while responding to Raza Rabbani’s indication towards the arrest of businessmen, said that this time they had introduced a self-assessment option in the budget. “FBR could not harass people now and for the first time a third-party audit will be carried out,” he said adding that even the person could not be arrested after the audit and a discussion would be held with him after the audit report. Shaukat Tarin said that the tax issues of 1.5 million people are being resolved by the government. “Their matters will not be sent to FBR as it could lead to harassment from the FBR,” the finance minister said. He informed that discussions on suggestions from the Senate body, taxation on food, and milk items and machinery has been withdrawn. “The IMF has recommended imposing a tax of Rs 700 billion,” he shared. Shaukat Tarin said that there was no concession left for tax evaders in the new budget 2021-22 and implementation on the tax-related decision will be started from July 1. He detailed that there is a chance for tax measures up to Rs264 billion instead of Rs383 billion in terms of the budgeted amount. “Different sectors have been given relief through the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs.” Tarin announces tax on calls above 5 minutes The finance minister announced that the government will now be taxing mobile phone calls lasting more than five minutes while addressing a session of the National Assembly. Tarin shared that speaking over your mobile for more than five minutes will be taxed at 75 paisas, but there will be no tax on an SMS. Earlier, the finance minister had said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the cabinet had opposed the imposition of tax on mobile phone calls, internet data and SMS, after which they would not be taxed. The government has set its revenue target at an ambitious Rs5,800 billion and Tarin said they are getting rid of 12 withholding taxes. Why Pakistan turned to the IMF The finance minister spoke about some of the major challenges faced by the PTI government and explained how the government tried to deal with these challenges of which the biggest was the country’s current account deficit of $20 million. Tarin reasoned that Pakistan’s economy declined because IMF had placed some strict conditions, including an increase in the discount rate to 13%, devaluing the rupee, and an increase in tariffs, when Pakistan approached it for its programme. Revised Plans Tarin emphasised on the “comprehensive and sustainable development this time around” during his budget speech. An interest-free loan of up to Rs 500,000 will be given to an individual for doing business in urban areas,” he announced. Tax on gold and silver has been reduced from 17% to 1-3% but the 17% tax on the value addition of gold will remain while taxes on wheat or its byproducts would not be levied. He said e-commerce tax is being ended and registered e-commerce companies have to pay zero tax while adding that incentives for textile industries are on the cards. Under the government’s final budget plans, every citizen can get a housing loan from banks. Low-income households, meanwhile, will be given a targeted subsidy for electricity and wheat. He also shared that PM Khan has refused to increase the electricity tariff, while Rs260 billion has been set aside for the Ehsaas program this year. Tarin said previous governments did not set money aside in the budget for a dam project as they thought it would not be completed in their tenure. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy He said that the government has allocated additional Rs 25 billion for the growth of the agriculture sector. “We will give interest-free loans up to Rs300,000 for agriculture. “We are bringing the idea of agri malls to get rid of the middle man’s role,” Tarin shared, explaining that the network of agri malls will be spread across Pakistan and get rid of the middle man’s current 400-500% profit margin. CPEC He informed that the government has also awarded the relocation of Chinese industry and said that “we are negotiating with Chinese government in this regard to achieve our share in expected 85000 new jobs from this opportunity. The game-changer China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega project is also a major focus of the government, he said adding that Special Economic Zones related to the CPEC would play the role of catalyst for the modernization of the industrial sector of the country. On Development He said the government has also decided to boost the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Rs 10 billion loans would be provided to SMEs with 9 percent interest while he expected up to $ 8 billion exports in the coming year in case the IT sector grows 50 percent a year in the country. He said the government has also increased the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) by 40 percent to Rs 900 billion for the coming Budget 2021-22 as compared to the previous FY 2020-21. The Finance Minister said that the housing sector was a major focus of the government and “we are providing easy loans to the people on lower interest rates for growth in the housing sector.