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FPCCI raises concern over sweeping powers granted to FBR

President FPCCI Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo addressing the post-budget press conference in Karachi. Source: FPCCI/MM News

KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) has raised concerns over the Finance Bill 2021-22 which could grant sweeping power to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

According to the proposed changes, the FBR will have the authority to make arrests and prosecute taxpayers over concealment of income. The officers of Inland Revenue (IR) could arrest a taxpayer accused of tax offences without even filing a complaint before a special judge.

Addressing the post-budget press conference, President FPCCI Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo said they submitted a simple tax model to the finance minister and FBR but received no response.

He said the FPCCI’s proposed tax model sent to Prime Minister, Finance Minister and FBR was based on a simple, fair and predictable tax system: 10% income tax on individuals; 20% on companies; single-stage 5% sales tax (for exporters zero percent tax); low rate customs duty (one chapter, one rate 5%) on all items (with 15-20% tariff protection for local industry) and FED only on luxury & hazardous products.

He said the prime minister issued direction to FBR to examine FPCCI’s proposals and they had received assurance from the finance minister that budgetary suggestions along with the tax model will be considered.

However, he said the suggestions of FPCCI have not been incorporated in the budget; while certain measures announced in the budget are partly reflective of FPCCI’s proposals.

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Mr Maggo highlighted the gravity of the issues arising due to the introduction of Section 203-A in the presence of already available provisions being overlooked. He asked for deletion of this provision on immediate basis.

On the issue of inclusion of retailers in definition of smuggling, Maggo said that better and effective enforcement to stop the supply of smuggled goods to retailers is required instead of leaving retailers at the mercy of inspection agencies.            

The President FPCCI also demanded the withdrawal of proposed Section 127 of Income Tax Ordinance 2001; which has made filing of appeal contingent upon depositing 100% disputed tax amount which is against the right to fair trial granted by the constitution.

He also proposed to omit Section 140 in the income ordinance by which FBR will be entitled to withdraw initial stage disputed amount from taxpayer’s bank accounts. He informed that the new introduction of penalties and confiscation of goods due to not accompanying invoice list in the container does not match with the ongoing claims of excluding human interaction in clearance of goods and payment of taxes.

He further said that the present trade includes different destinations of negotiations and trans-shipments in which the procedure of exporting destination may not accommodate such provision. Hence, this proposal in the budget should be withdrawn.

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FPCCI also demanded that the tax audit by third party may be proposed in the statutes with pre-determined audit parameters and mechanism to ensure transparency and exclusive to market and FBR interest.

President FPCCI proposed that office of FTO may be considered to be assigned third-party tax audit as FTO is a constitutional office and would assure transparency in conducting the tax issues.

FPCCI strongly demanded FBR to share the draft list of proposed Additional Custom Duty, Regulatory Duty and other proposed taxesso that their issuance anomalies can be arrested.

Maggo said that the present tax system negates constitutional requirements whereby tax judicial function has to be independent and separate from tax collecting machinery.

The FPCCI has written to Chief Justice of Pakistan to take cognizance of ongoing violation of constitution in taxation affairs conducted by FBR.

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