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Gilgit-Kashgar road has been opened for one-way traffic.The road was blocked at Hassanabad due to land slid this morning. FWO restored the traffic removing debris from the road.Source: Radio Pakistan

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The federal government has approved a plan for provision of natural gas to Katlang tehsil of district Mardan.Sources of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited told Radio Pakistan Peshawar Correspondent that the project will be completed at a cost of mo...

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Fifty-five suspects were arrested during search operations in different areas of Peshawar on Saturday morning.Arms and ammunition also recovered from them.Source: Radio Pakistan

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Senate Standing Committee holds consultations with all Chambers on removal of discretionary powers

Islamabad, April 28, 2017 (PPI-OT): A meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance was held in Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Senator Salim Mandviwala to discuss and address the issues and problems faced by country’s business and industrial community due to the unchecked discretionary powers acquired by FBR over the years and misused by the officers of Inland Revenue for harassment and extortion of registered taxpayers.

Senator Salim Mandviwala had taken serious note of complaints voiced by representatives of trade, industry and Taxpayers regarding the high-handed tactics and coercive approach of FBR and invited all Chambers, Associations and affected parties to attend the meeting of the standing committee in order to have a threadbare discussion in the presence of FBR officials and decide the future course of action to curtail the discretionary powers and resolve other issues related to taxation policy in order to alleviate the suffering.

Vice Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Haroon Farooki, President Karachi Chamber Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Former Senior Vice President KCCI Muhammad Ibrahim Kasumbi, President Lahore Chamber Abdul Basit, President Islamabad Chamber Khalid Iqbal Malik, President KPK Chamber Haji Muhammad Afzal, President Gujranwala Chamber Saeed Ahmed Taj, Executive Member Gujrat Chamber Muhammad Naeem Imtiaz, Chairman Taxation Committee of Lasbela Chamber Iqbal Ismail and other representatives of numerous Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Trade Associations attended the meeting whereas Chairman and members of FBR and Senators from ruling party and opposition were also present on the occasion.

Chairman Standing Committee Salim Mandviwala expressed his dismay and concern over the large number of complaints received from representatives of business and community on the misuse of discretionary powers by FBR and a very disrespectful treatment of tax-payers.

Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Haroon Farooki, who is also the convener of Action Committee of all chambers, highlighted the core issues of Discretionary Powers delegated to the lower cadres of FBR and harassment of tax payers which has resulted in decline in number of taxpayers and failure to broaden the tax base. To meet the revenue targets, FBR has resorted to squeeze the compliant taxpayers who are already burdened with high rates of taxation and number of taxes.

He pointed out that taxpayers have been made Withholding Agents and collect advance tax on behalf of FBR which is causing serious hardship to the registered persons because we do not have the required tools, capacity and manpower to collect taxes from entire supply chain comprising many unregistered persons. As a consequence, the Withholding agent becomes liable to pay tax on behalf of non-filers. He said that FBR officers were enjoying immense discretionary powers under Sections 25, 37, 37A, 38, 40, 40B and 48 of the Sales Tax Act and 114 (6), 165A, 165B, 122, 138, 175 (1)(2), 176 and 177.

Haroon Farooki further added that the report of Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) which incorporates major reforms of taxation policy, administration and laws and was prepared after extensive deliberations with all stakeholders has not been implemented. All chambers have, therefore, demanded the implementation of TRC report in upcoming budget so that the powers of FBR could be curtailed.

On the occasion, President Lahore Chamber Abdul Basit, while fully endorsing views and suggestions presented by Haroon Farooki, said that business community is not averse to paying taxes but FBR should first focus on those outside the tax regime rather than squeezing the compliant tax payers. He said that the practices such as raids on premises, freezing of bank accounts and withdrawing funds from taxpayers’ accounts have been counterproductive and proved detrimental to economic growth and business.

Though the Chairman FBR Dr. Irshad Ahmad defended the position of FBR and denied charges of corruption in the RTO’s and field formations, Senator Kamil Ali Agha and Senator Ilyas Bilour stated that they themselves have suffered extortion at the hands of IR officials. All other Presidents of the chambers and representatives of the trade associations endorsed the views and proposals to curtail and remove the discretionary powers which have caused more damage than benefit to the country’s economy.

After extensive deliberations Chairman Standing Committee Salim Mandviwala assured the representatives of business and industrial community that their issues and grievances will be taken up in the parliament and discretionary powers which are the root cause of corruption and harassment will be removed through the Finance Bill for the year 2017-18.

He directed the Chairman FBR that all raids on the premises of the taxpayers and filers be stopped. Any raids which are necessary should only be authorized by Chairman FBR and Member-Operations FBR in cases where a substantial amount of evasion is detected and based on hard evidence.

It may be recalled that a 6 member Action Committee comprising office bearers of major chambers was formed recently at the conventions of All Chambers held in Karachi and Lahore, which is being led by Vice Chairman BMG and Former President KCCI Haroon Farooki to counter FBR’s harassment and arm-twisting tactics. The action committee had taken up the burning issues faced by taxpayers and sought removal of FBR’s discretionary powers at all forums including the Standing Committee of the Senate on Finance.

For more information, contact:
Director Press/Electronic Media and Public Relations
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
Aiwan-e-Tijarat Road, Off Shahrah-e-Liaquat,
Phone: +92-21-99218001-09
Fax: +92-21-99218040
Email: info@kcci.com.pk, secretary@kcci.com.pk
Website: www.kcci.com.pk

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