Lahore, April 24, 2015 (PPI-OT): President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra has suggested that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) must designate a focal person within the FBR who should be given the task to promptly respond to queries of various Chambers of Commerce and Industry across Pakistan.
It has been observed from time to time that FBR do not bothers to reply to KCCI letters or sometimes takes more than 2 to 3 months to give its reaction which intensifies the problems being faced by the business and industrial community of Karachi, he added.
Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra was speaking at the 2nd meeting of the Sub-Committee of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization held in Islamabad. Convener of Sub-Committee of National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, MNA Kaiser Ahmed Sheikh and members including MNA Daniyal Aziz, MNA Sheikh Fayyaz-ud-Din, MNA Dr. Nafisa Shah and MNA Nasir Khan Khattak, along with representatives of various Chambers of Commerce and Industry across Pakistan attended the meeting.
President KCCI Iftikhar Vohra further stated that massive discretionary powers to various departments of FBR, particularly the Directorate General Intelligence and Investigation – Inland Revenue (DG I and I-IR), have provided a perfect opportunity to corrupt officers to fearlessly harass the business community which requires stringent measures in order to provide relief to perturbed businessmen and industrialists.
He said that dozens of businessmen and industrialists have been approaching the Karachi Chamber to seek assistance as they were constantly receiving notices from DG I and I-IR while their shops, offices, factories and business units were also being raided because of the extraordinary discretionary powers.
“We have been reiterating this from time to time that FBR remains focused only on further squeezing and creating problems for the existing taxpayers who are constantly being harassed while the tax evaders continue to enjoy all the benefits and keep themselves away from the tax net”, he added.
President KCCI further noted that although the FBR has been claiming to have identified thousands of tax evaders who owned more than one house, have luxurious cars, they and their kids frequently travel abroad, study in foreign universities, use credit cards and operate bank accounts but, unfortunately, the Board has never succeeded in acting against such tax evaders whereas all the burden was being put on existing taxpayers which was highly unfair.
In such circumstances, the loyal taxpayers are constantly being overburdened and have to suffer badly due to complex tax procedures while the tax evaders, who were probably highly influential, continue to enjoy all the benefits by staying outside the tax net, he added.
Iftikhar Vohra was of the view that FBR must devise an effective strategy to raise the number of taxpayers, get rid of administrative decisions pertaining exemptions and take steps to improve the overall taxation system.
He also stressed the need to drastically cut tax rates, particularly the sales tax should be brought down to single digit in next budget (2015-16), in order to attract investment and reduce cost of doing business while the disparity between commercial and industrial importers of raw material should also be effectively tackled by implementing uniform rates of taxes and levies.
Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra assured that KCCI will fully support any initiative of the FBR to broaden the tax base. At present, smuggling of billions of dollars was taking place and if the government brings down the tax rates, the cost of smuggling would rise and documented imports would subsequently improve, he opined.
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