Third party to conduct tax audits: Shaukat Tarin

Third party to conduct tax audits: Shaukat Tarin

KARACHI: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has announced that tax audits to be done by third party. Further it has been decided to launch universal self assessment scheme (USAS).

“I want to remove harassment by FBR. Although there are good people at FBR but there are also some troublemakers. Hence, we have agreed upon Universal Tax Self-Assessment and the audits by third party only,” he added while speaking at an online meeting with BMG Leadership and KCCI Office Bearers on Thursday.

A statement issued by the Karachi Chamber of commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Thursday quoted Shaukat Tarin that if any wrongdoing was found after the audit by third party, it will result in initiation of investigation and punitive action.

“In this regard, we have created a section to review all the bills, number of deposits and travel history etc. of individuals and if any person is found liable to pay taxes but is a defaulter, such cases will be sent to third-party auditors to prove tax default and if proven, these defaulters will be put behind bars,” Tarin said, adding that laws will be devised to put such persons behind bars responsible for willful default.

He stated that the government was focused on rationalizing the turnover tax in order to make some sense as it varies in numerous cases.

The minister also agreed that when three percent penalty was being charged in case of unregistered persons, the CNIC condition should not be there. Hence, the minister directed FBR to look into this matter and stop demanding CNIC.

“A call center will also be established at FBR in which complaints can be lodged which I will personally review on daily basis to ensure accountability at the FBR,” he added.

In response to concerns expressed over dilapidated infrastructure of Karachi, Shaukat Tarin informed that a three years package of Rs900 billion has been allocated under PSDP for Karachi which will be finalized by the PM.

“During discussions on this allocation at a meeting which will be presided over by the Prime Minister, I will definitely raise business community’s concerns and I will be your promoter.”

He said that the government was trying its best to facilitate the SMEs and, in this regard, the SMEs falling under the bracket of Rs2 million will be provided ‘clean credit’ facility with no security. For this purpose, the government will be providing huge amount of funds to banks at 8 percent which will be given to SMEs at 9 percent while credit insurance will be provided by the government. “It is a matter of grave concerns that out of a total of 6 to 8 million SMEs, only 180,000 SMEs have access to credit, hence efforts will be made to extend credit facility to at least 1 million SMEs in the next two years.”

He said that FBR will also be directed not to stop refunds of SMEs and small businesses. “We will clear all the backlog of refunds within a few months by issuing Tradeable Bonds so that the businesses could have sufficient amount of liquidity available with them and a smarter mechanism will be introduced to clear refunds within 60 to 90 days.”

Referring to concerns expressed over Rs58 billion refunds pending under DLTL scheme, Shaukat Tarin termed it as ‘a very good point” and directed FBR expedite the refunds while DLTL should not be collected this year as the FBR already owes huge amount.

Commenting on a suggestion to treat indenters commission as export proceeds, the Finance Minister said that it was a very good idea to consider indenters’ commission as export proceeds as it has been observed that many indenters prefer to keeping their earnings outside the country but if these earnings were treated as export proceeds, it would encourage them to bring funds to Pakistan.

He said that reforms were being introduced at the revenue side which will ensure that no harassment takes place and there will be no double taxation. “The IMF has been pushing us to stop all exemptions and impose additional tax of Rs140 billion on existing taxpayers which I denied”, Shaukat Tarin said, “Only blatant exemptions will be dealt otherwise the rest will continue. We are broadening the tax base by making good use of technology and innovation which will neither be coercive nor regressive but will be devised in consultation with the business community.”

Finance Minister also assured to regularly hold meetings with KCCI at least once in three months so that dialogue on an ongoing basis continues to promptly resolve business community issues while the FBR will be directed to consider and resolve all the technical issues being raised by KCCI.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala pointed out that despite the outbreak of COVID-19, Karachi has given 18 percent growth in exports and it overall exports stood at 58 percent therefore, the Federal Government must take Karachi’s robustness into consideration and accordingly give its due share which has unfortunately not been given so far.

He said that although a subsidy was earmarked for Karachi’s energy needs but as per Ministry of Energy, the earmarked amount exhausts by paying for uniform tariff across the country and no amount is left to give subsidy for gas at 6.5 dollars per MMBtu to the five export-oriented sectors. The subsidy does not account for the Hydel electricity portion which is given to KE as a right of Karachi over Hydel Power. If the same is calculated at the cost of hydel electricity, then this subsidy can automatically be saved and given for the sale of gas at 6.45 per MMBtu to the five export-oriented sectors.

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