FPCCI fears agitation against new ordinance
KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has expressed fears of agitation against the newly-introduced ordinance that is promulgated without consultation with the stakeholders, a statement said.
FPCCI president Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo termed the new ordinance a conspiracy against the government and conflicting to the finance minister’s vision of due consultation with all the stakeholders before announcing any taxation measures.
He also expressed his fears that this may lead to agitation for being grossly unfair.
Maggo condemned the human rights defying sweeping powers to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and enabling it to disconnect mobile phones, electricity and gas connections of the non-filers of income tax returns.
It also empowers the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open income tax cases as old as 20 years through accessing tax records through the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra), he added. The new amendment is called “The Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021.”
Maggo said that it was the FPCCI’s proposal to disconnect the connections of commercial and industrial non-filers; but, this ordinance does not take due and fair procedure of separation of executive and adjudication into account.
The ordinance vaguely mentions under-assessed income tax filers and provides blanket discretionary powers to the income tax officers, he added.
Pointing towards the challenges posed by the mandatory online and digital payments, the FPCCI chief said: “Our economy runs on the sales made on post-dated cheques and credit is usually for two months and the businesses cannot comply with this condition in the new ordinance.”
The ordinance contains budgetary measures and these cannot be taken without due consultation with the stakeholders and the ordinance had already come into force from September 15, 2021, he said, adding that the FPCCI considers this anti-business and unfair.
Khawaja Shahzeb Akram, senior vice president of the FPCCI, said that the conspicuous excesses are being permitted to the revenue board under the amendment; and that it will only open the door to even more corruption in the taxation system and result in an overwhelming increase in harassment of the business community.
The FPCCI’s deputy chief said in the rest of the world, the governments are giving tax breaks and incentives to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to ward off the losses caused by the Covid-19; and, in Pakistan, the government is trying to reinvent the wheel and strangulate the business, industry and trade community.
Haji Ghulam Ali, a former president of the FPCCI and a former senator, as well, expressed shock over the amendment and its potential to be misused against the opponents.
The NAB and FBR had already created a fearful and discouraging environment and introducing further harsh piece of legislation will destroy the economy irreversibly, he said, adding that reopening the dead income tax cases of up to 20 years will not bring any more revenue in the government’s kitty.
The FPCCI categorically demanded holding the ordinance in abeyance; until and unless all the stakeholders are consulted.
The FPCCI remains committed and available for dialogue and discussion for the reforms in the taxation system and broadening the tax base.
It reiterates that the taxation system can only be effectively reformed if all the stakeholders are taken onboard.
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