KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has recommended introducing taxpayers’ bill of rights in the forthcoming budget.
The apex trade body in its proposals for budget 2020/2021, said that the present situation of antagonism between the tax collection agencies and taxpayers needs to be reconciled through a democratic process and implementation of Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.
The goals fixed under Pakistan Raises Revenue (PRR) Project, estimated at US $1.6 billion, of which financing by World Bank is $400 million, cannot be achieved through handpicked experts (mostly coming on donors’ dictates) who are completely oblivious to the mundane realities of Pakistan.
The bad faith, antagonism and mistrust prevailing between the government and taxpayers can only be removed through a process ensuring a just and fair tax system in Pakistan for which the blueprint and roadmap is available, and we need no foreign funding.
The only thing lacking is political will to debate, promote research on the various challenges and find out workable solutions. This process will certainly require some time.
Meanwhile, PTI Government in order to restore the confidence of the taxpayers should immediately start the process of enactment of Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.
The draft of Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights was prepared for the first time in 2014 by a sub-committee, constituted by the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), in which Dr. Ikram Ul Haq had put in his best skill to suggest the balance between the rights of taxpayers and authority of tax collectors.
Thereafter, the Tax Reforms Commission (TRC), after 18 months of its establishment, also presented the same in its final report submitted in February 2016. However, until today no practical step has been taken to implement it.
It is high time that the incumbent Government should introduce the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in the finance bill 2020-21
The FPCCI further said that it is a time that we should focus on macroeconomic management issues including budgetary consideration which can have positive effect on long term business efforts towards capital formations and investment of trust and justice in the tax policies and obligations of tax statutes.
Independent Tax Adjudication System, which was promised two decades back during the period of General Parvez Musharraf be included in the ensuing Finance Bill, 2020. Some of the actions were taken but un-sustainability and cascaded developments remain absent. The prosecutors continue to remain adjudicators in the system.