Federal Tax Ombudsman vows to eradicate maladministration in FBR

Hassan Naqvi Staff Reporter

18th Oct, 2021. 06:51 pm

Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Muhammad Asif Jah receives a momento from All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. Photo: Reporter

LAHORE: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Muhammad Asif Jah has said that the institution is using all legal powers and resources to check individual and system-based maladministration and corrupt practices in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to restore the taxpayers’ confidence in the tax administration in the larger interest of the country.

Addressing members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) on Monday, he said, only a fair, just, easy and efficient tax system can ensure better revenue collection, which is vital for the country’s growth.

Dr Jah said that the FTO office is not only handling the complaints received from the taxpayers but through its mechanism of own motion cases and inspections, it was hectically engaged in checking maladministration in the tax administration and make recommendations.

He emphasised that the FTO’s institution provides cost-free, efficient and merit-based mechanism to aggrieved persons. Also, it checks revenue leakages and contribute towards ensuring a better tax collection deterrence to the corrupt tax officials.

The outreaching programme was one of the key functions of his office, he said, adding that even the President of Pakistan has directed not to only expedite it but also enhance its scope, he added.

The FTO office would ensure the end of the culture of nonresponsive attitude of the tax officers towards the taxpayers, as he is issuing instructions to the FBR chairman, in this regard, and assured for its implementation.

The FTO also sought Aptma’s representation in the Advisory Committee of the FTO Lahore for resolution of the tax issues being faced by the members of the association.

He urged the FBR’s senior officers to enhance interaction with the business community for an early resolution of their problems.

On the issue of missing amounts of refund claims of the export-oriented industry, he advised the members of the association to file complaints with the FTO office for officially taking up the matter with the FBR.

The FTO office has received 3,888 cases in 2020 with a disposal of 3,555 cases in the same year. The ratio of acceptance of the FTO recommendations stood at 80.03 per cent, while only 19.9 per cent were challenged by the competent authority.

The average disposal time was 48.61 days in 2020. The office of the FTO had carried out 35 research studies in 2020, as well, he added.

Dr Asif Jah appreciated the role of the textile industry in the economy and exports of the country and promised to take all possible measures to attend to the issues and concerns raised by the Aptma members.

No country can grow without facilitating its business community, he said and urged the trade and industry to consider the FTO office as their own advocate against highhandedness by the tax functionaries.

He reiterated that his office was for the service of genuine and honest taxpayers with the mandate of eliminating maladministration from the tax machinery.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Aptma chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir welcomed the appointment of Dr Asif Jah as the Federal Tax Ombudsman, who is an icon of honesty and public service.

He thanked the Ombudsman, chief commissioners of the Inland Revenue, chief collectors Customs, director of Intelligence and Investigations, advisers and other senior officers from the FBR and FTO for visiting Aptma and listen to the taxpayers’ issues.

Rahim apprised that the textile industry is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy with 60 per cent share in total exports and 40 per cent share in the manufacturing sector employment.

With the injection of new investment of $5 billion in the textile sector, 100 new plants would be added during the year to provide 500,000 jobs.

He said with the help of the regionally competitive energy tariff of 9c/Kwh for electricity and $6.5/MMBTU for gas, the textile sector was poised to achieve current’s export target of $21 billion this year and $50 billion during the next five years.

Hamid Zaman, zonal chairman of Aptma highlighted the major tax concerns of the business community and criticised the FBR circular, empowering the field officers with the powers of attaching bank accounts without any prior intimation.

The circular is contrary to the scores of decisions taken by the superior courts that recovery can only be affected after the liability is established at least at the level of an independent forum.

He said the new circular would promote cash economy due to risks of seizing bank deposits of the taxpayers by FBR.

Zaman demanded withdrawal of the condition of payments in digital mode. He said there was no justification for substituting the existing mode of payment through crossed cheques and banking channel, which are well serving the purpose of documentation of the economy.

He criticised the revenue board for initiating criminal proceedings against hundreds of taxpayers simultaneously without establishing any tax fraud even in cases where full compliance of law was made and payments were made through the banking channel.

Zaman vociferously criticised the FBR’s instruction dated October 13, 2021, disallowing trade discounts to the sales tax registered retailers.

The retail sector across the world allows discounts to customers, he said and feared that non-admissibility of trade discounts to registered retailers will cripple them and compel them to get themselves deregistered.

He demanded immediate withdrawal of these instructions and allowing trade discounts to restore the confidence among the sales tax registered retailers.

Kamran Arshad, senior vice chairman, presented a vote of thanks to the visiting FTO, senior FBR and FTO officers and for patiently responding to the grievances and issues raised by the member mills.

He expressed the hope that the FTO will adopt all possible measures for the resolution and redressal of these grievances.

Malik Naeem Khan, vice president of the All Pakistan Aluminum Manufacturing Association, and Malik Tallat Suhail, representative from Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA)/FPCCI also raised the issues of their respective sectors on the occasion.