Business community looks towards FTO for fair treatment

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Karachi (DNA): Atif Ikram Sheikh, President FPCCI, has proposed that the office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) should be utilized to deal with maladministration at Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to create a fair, corruption-free and broadened taxation system. Business Community looks towards FTO for fair treatment at the hands of tax machinery, he added.

Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh noted that broadening of the tax base, simplification of the taxation system and the separation of tax collection & adjudication powers should be the guiding principles to reform FBR to meet the requirements of the businesses and the economy alike.

Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh emphasized that FTO should be enabled to have advisors and technocrats on board from all sectors of the economy to have an inclusive and effective reform agenda. He also acknowledged thousands of fair, swift, objective and cost-free resolutions of taxation and customs disputes provided to the aggrieved parties by the office of FTO.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, SVP FPCCI, pointed out that the separation of tax collection and adjudication is a must to implement the proven and principled system of separation of judiciary and executive. He said that until and unless tax collector will remain the adjudicator as well, maladministration, harassment, corruption and tax evasion will not end.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon strongly presented the case of negligence vis-à-vis letters and other correspondence sent to FBR from FPCCI; however, they fail to respond to the concerns, grievances and feedback of even the apex body of the business community. FPCCI seeks FTO’s attention to take notice of this malpractice and precedence, he added.

Mr. Asif Sakhi, VP FPCCI, noted that office of the FTO has become a relief providing organization in the true sense; and, its unbiased, merit-based and free redressals of the disputes have shown that right laws and their implementation in letter & spirit can save taxpayers from maltreatment at the hands of taxation officers. He, however, expressed his concerns that FBR is still seems to be reluctant in swiftly implementing the decisions, resolutions, redressals and advisories of FTO.

Mr. Aman Paracha, VP FPCCI, raised the issue of a glaring anomaly in import of tea in bulk; where only small packaging with printed MRP should be subjected to MRP-based sales tax. This is a violation of Sales Tax Act 1990 and bulk industrial imports should not be subjected to MRP; and, should be treated as raw material as those imports are then further processed, blended, value-added, shape-changed and packaged, he added.

Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah, Federal Tax Ombudsman, has apprised the business community on the mandate and the performance of the office of FTO. He said that 80 – 90% of the complaints by the business community go in their favor on an average. The complainants have the option of an appeal to FTO or of even filing a representation with the constitutional office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah added that FTO cannot directly reprimand the tax and customs officials; but, he can make his observations on misuse of powers, maladministration, anomalies, harassment and corruption; and, those are taken seriously.

Explaining the other functions of the institution of FTO, Dr. Jah said that inspections, own-motion actions and research are also mandated. Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah also stated that he wishes to expedite the turnaround time for resolution of complaints from 40 days to 40 hours.