And ways out of them
The FBR has been making noise lately. Now the chairman has ordered customs authorities to take action against officials of the department found taking bribes from traders and disrupting their activities. No doubt this is an important step in eliminating deep rooted corruption within the department. But much more effort will need to be put in if the FBR is to assume a semblance of reliability in the long run. So far it has not been responsive to much needed reforms, and its core function of generating revenue remains compromised.
But, ironically, it takes more than just the FBR to streamline the revenue machinery. The process begins with much needed political will, and the capacity to transform it into meaningful, quantifiable action. And the present government has not been able to score many points on this front, even though it made a big deal about FBR reforms and expanding the tax base at the time of the last general election campaign. Small steps like checking trader-level bribes and corruption are always welcome. But considering the magnitude of present problems, they are mere cosmetic work in practical terms.
With half its tenure still remaining, the government is advised to turn to governmental problems that are begging for its attention, and revenue paralysis will turn into one of its biggest political problems as the next general election draws near. Prices may be low, but the economy is not growing. And continuous borrowing is only worsening the debt trap. Sooner or later, the government will have to stimulate indigenous earning. But neither exports nor taxes are working. How, then, will it plug the gap? It should revamp the tax machinery before it is too late, otherwise it will have only itself to blame when people go to the polls.