Mr. Nasir Khan Acting-President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry has shown his serious concern over the no response and low priority to Business Community issues which is affecting FBR and Business Community partnership required for conducting smooth business and becoming fragile.
He said that the issue of CNIC still not resolved despite COVID-19, the issue has reduced business activities. He stated that numerous laws and regulations have been imposed on the business sectors while at highest level meetings the FBR officials are unable to responds which is not suitable just time consuming. The highest level official should have autonomy to resolve and decide the issues being raised in the meetings. During the meeting with Chairman FBR the working of the FBR was discussed which is not up to mark and no sign of any trade facilitation is seen. There is no representation of this apex body of trade and industry in the various crucial decisions being taken by the FBR i.e., formulations of the resolution committees and issuance of SROs without consultation. During frequent visits of Member IR (Operation) to the FPCCI Head Office wherein, a number of problems were put forward for decision but instead there should be any relief to the trade bodies no fruitful decision is made so that even a single problem is resolved. Instead to increase the net of the taxpayer the FBR machinery is engaged to squeeze the traders which are already under tax net. The seriousness of the FBR towards tax collections may be noted from the fact that there is no representation of the FPCCI in various committees. It seems that there is a wide communication gap between the apex body of trade and industry (FPCCI) and the FBR Headquarters and if the position is not improved then the net results in progress to resolve trade related issues will be zero.
While participating in the meeting Mr. Zakaria Usman, Convener, FPCCI Budget Advisory Council expressed that is in trade business for more than 50 years and still would like to see a economical budget to be implemented by the FBR instead of revenue oriented budget. FBR is lacking consistency in policies which change rapidly affecting the working of businessmen and the commodities are gone out of costing. The policy of FBR to squeeze the already registered taxpayers may be shifted to a mechanism to explore new taxpayers and avenues accordingly. He suggested a cascading system spreading on five steps which is more economical and tax oriented. Secondly the policy to issue SROs over the night may be come to an end forth with. Regarding valuation he shared his views that the system of valuation prevailing worldwide on the basis of scan prices may be adopted immediately instead to issue valuation rulings on the will of valuation directorate who issue such rulings without taking the stakeholder on board.
He quoted the example of plastic scan where the valuation prices are issued by the plastic association and applicable evenly on all the importers. Prime Minister is keen to move the country towards industrialization. The formation of trade zones will certainly be helpful extending the required benefits for the industries working in these zones. But is it sorry to say that the goods intended to be used in tax free zones are pushed in the tariff areas thus affecting the traders who are doing business in the tariff area after paying the statutory rate of customs duties and taxes. We must explore the import substitute to boost the local. Further, he suggested that CNIC problem should be resolved on priority.
Mr. Nasir Khan, Vice President of FPCCI shared with the Chairman the idea of one window operation that all the taxes are collected on same place including its adjudication etc., so that the traders may not run from pillar to post for redressal of their problems. He said that the traders of Balochistan have problems with the intelligence on valuation issues. The trade bodies struggled and helpful to stop smuggling in the province. Another problem he pointed out regarding DTRE approvals that it takes days and month to dispose the DTRE applications. He also suggested that trade bodies may be taken on board and on transfer / posting of the officers so that the willing officer could be pointed out for smooth running of day to day issues.
Mr. Hanif Lakhani, Vice President of FPCCI suggested review of SRO 1065 for industrial investment and the advantages may be given to the stakeholders as the advantages extending to reconstruction industry. Mr. Khurram Sayeed, Former Vice President of FPCCI congratulated the Chairman on the targets of tax collection for the last seven months. He said that tax net to be broadened rather than to impose new taxes on the taxpayers which are already registered. He pointed out a new practice of FBR to issue notices to the taxpayers for the last five years. The officials when contacted they say that the notices are system based and we will rectify the data accordingly. He also said that It is against the judicial norms that Income Tax Officer who issue notices for recovery conducts the hearing himself which should have been heard by a separate officer.
Mr. Khurram Ijaz, Immediate Past Vice President of FPCCI supported the view of President FPCCI to establish a Help Desk of FBR in the FPCCI Head Office and requested the Chairman that at least this decision may be finalized today. He further suggested that there should be a meeting of FBR Officers with the FPCCI representatives within two weeks’ time to hear the trade bodies and to consider budget proposals.
Engr. M. A. Jabbar, Former Vice President of FPCCI said that the consultation of FPCCI and FBR on tax matters is almost zero. It is high time to take decisions by FBR on then and there basis rather than to shift the matters on committees / sub-committees. If there are no changes in the system then one cannot expect improvement in the taxation system that is why we are more interested in a fixed tax system rather than the present one. Mr. Sultan Rehman, Immediate Past Vice President of FPCCI informed that current notices of Section 82 being issued by IRS for late filing of returns may be withdrawn immediately keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Shabbir Hassan Mansha, Convener, FPCCI Customs Standing Committee pointed out the chronic issue of non-cooperation of shipping companies as they are not accepting the delay detentions. He suggested to improve the provisions of Section 14A in the current Budget so that the dominance of shipping companies and terminal operators could be reduced.
He requested for regulation of Port & Shipping Laws so that terminal operators and shipping agents may not be able to shift their responsibilities. Another issue is the rent of the containers which sometimes exceeded the price of container itself. He suggested that a copy of SROs / Notifications / Orders may be endorsed to the Manager, FPCCI FBR Affairs Wing so that prompt within time may be taken in the best interest of trade bodies.
Mr. Haroon Farooqui former President KCCI pointed out a hidden lobby who is working for their agenda and disturbing the overall trade friendly atmosphere creating a gap between the trade and FBR. He said that unless SMEs are encouraged Pakistan will never achieve its goal towards prosperity and industrialization. Mr. Zeeshan, Sr. Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tea Association said that the imported tea is not marketed as such but it is blended with other quality tea to make it suitable with respect to its aroma and taste.
In the last Chairman thanked the participant for sparing their valuable time for discussion and assured that he will consider the idea to establish a Help Desk at FPCCI. He termed the idea to hold seminars on the subject of Budget Proposals and to improve tax laws.
Mr. Nasir Khan the Acting- President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry strongly urged to consider FPCCI proposals avoid policy of scraping them that will discourage trade bodies to participate in the process of budget formulations.
Courtesy – BMA Capital Management Ltd.