Federal Tax Ombudsman Asif Mahmood Jha has announced to appoint President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Muhammed Tariq Yousuf as Honorary Advisor FTO so that the members of business community could comfortably bring issues to KCCI’s notice and the same can be taken up personally by President KCCI with FTO for timely resolution.
Speaking at a ceremony held at KCCI to distribute cheques to refund excess amount of sales tax paid against purchase of Suzuki vehicles to complainants, Asif Mehmood Jha said that as FTO was a public and business friendly institution, it has appointed Advisors from various Chambers of Commerce as well with a view to bridge gap between FTO and the business community. “Relevant notification about the appointment of President KCCI as Advisor FTO will be issued from FTO Lahore Office soon”, he added.
Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Muhammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Muhammad Haris Agar, Advisor Legal FTO Almas Ali Jovindah, Advisors (Customs) FTO Manzoor Hussain Memon and Syed Tahir Raza Zaidi along with Senior Customs Officials and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present on the occasion.
Asif Mahmood Jha, while highlighting FTO’s improved performance since he took oath on September 29, 2021, stated, “After taking oath, I intended to make FTO a public relief-oriented organization which could easily be accessed and is able to promptly resolve issues. Hence, to achieve the desired objective of promptly resolving issues at the complainant’s doorstep, we’ve established several FTO offices in small cities as well so that the number of complaints could be enhanced which were too low as the institution hardly receives 3,000 complaints out of 3 million taxpayers.”
He said that FTO emphasizes on enhancing its outreach so that maximum people could be acquainted about FTO’s functioning and relief could also be provided at the earliest. “All Advisors and FTO staff have been strictly instructed that they are the advocates of taxpayers who deserve to be fully facilitated and appreciated as it is these taxpayers who play the role of country’s backbone and it is because of their contribution that the wheels of economy keep on spinning”, he said, adding that thanks to the strenuous efforts, the number of complaints being received at FTO have risen sharply and majority of the cases have either been settled immediately after FTO’s intervention without going into further legal proceedings. FTO was Pakistan’s vibrant legal forum wherein cases are decided within 60 days as it takes years and decades at other legal forums to get justice but at FTO, cases are decided within 60 days, 6 days and even within 6 hours and also within an hour.
Referring to concerns expressed over opening of old cases and harassment being faced by those taxpayers who approach FTO for assistance, Asif Mahmood Jha said that FTO took up this issue with FBR and it has been assured through issuance of circular that neither adverse action nor old cases will be opened against any taxpayer who approaches FTO for assistance.
Referring to refund of excess Sales Tax to buyers of Suzuki vehicles, he informed that a total of 9,500 taxpayers were approached by FTO who purchased Suzuki Vehicles and paid excess Sales Tax but the move was disliked by FBR and they approached President of Pakistan for assistance but FTO’s decision was fully supported by President’s Office and the FBR was directed to issue refunds. “Any other such case wherein excess Sales Tax has been paid for purchasing Suzuki vehicle can also be referred to FTO and we’ll make sure that the complainant gets refund”, he added in response to KCCI’s request.
Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, while appreciating the performance of FTO that has led to restoring the confidence of business community, pointed out that Customs Intelligence have nowadays started raiding factories with assertions that these factories were using Indian fabric. “Why the imported Indian fabric was not being intercepted either at the ports or at borders when it was being smuggled or being brought through Afghan Transit Trade”, he asked and requested FTO’s help in dealing with this issue.
He further said that although cases are decided by FTO within the timeframe but the implementation takes too long whereas anyone approaching FTO for help also starts receiving other notices by FBR which was serious issue that needs attention.
Earlier, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, while warmly welcoming the FTO, appreciated release of Sales Tax Refund to buyers of Suzuki vehicles which was rare but become possible only due to FTO’s dedicated efforts.
He said that FTO has been providing excellent services which have resulted in minimizing the grievances being faced by the business and industrial community however, they must also ensure that anyone approaching FTO for assistance was not being harassed by FBR Officials as it has been observed that many taxpayers seeking FTO’s help usually face repercussions in shape of other notices and reopening of old cases which discourages taxpayers to approach FTO for getting their issues resolved.
He informed that business community suffers severe losses on account of demurrage and detention losses due to procedural delays and instable dollar along with valuation issues that lead to raising the demurrages and detention charges hence, the FTO must also look into the possibility of issuing directives to rationalize demurrage/ detention charges which would surely provide a big relief to perturbed importers.