ISLAMABAD: The World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, Najy Benhassine called on Chairman FBR Mr. Asim Ahmad on Friday afternoon, for an introductory meeting, following Mr. Asim Ahmad’s recent appointment as the Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue. During the meeting the two Heads discussed the World Bank sponsored Reforms program ‘Pakistan Raises Revenue’, which is a $400 million program for domestic resource mobilization through the automation of tax collection processes and the simplification of tax compliance procedures.
The Chairman gave an update on the progress of the Reforms agenda covering 10 Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) and also shared concerns regarding the difficulties being encountered in progress on reform interventions involving data sharing with provinces and the Sindh High Court stay on the Track and Trace process.
Member Reforms, Ms. Ambreen Iftikhar and Mr. Raymond Muhulla, World Bank’s Team Lead on ‘Pakistan Raises Revenue’ were also present at the meeting. It was decided that the FBR Reforms team would give a detailed presentation to Mr. Najy regarding the impediments being faced by FBR, especially with regard to Component 1 of the Reforms program, covering $320 million.
The Federal Board of Revenue is on track regarding most of the DLIs and has made good progress on automation of key business processes and signing of MOUs with various authorities for sharing of data. The Country Director, Mr Najy has agreed to look into the concerns raised by the Chairman FBR over matters which are beyond the scope of FBR’s administrative authority.
Meanwhile, as a sequel to E-Kutcheries held on monthly basis to comply with the directions of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)/Secretary Revenue Division, Asim Ahmad held an E-Kutchery at FBR HQ on Friday to listen to the complaints and issues of taxpayers. The complainants interacted directly with the new Chairman FBR.
Chairman FBR listened to the complaints of the taxpayers and issued on spot directions for resolution of complaints. Chairman FBR appreciated the suggestions put forth by the taxpayers and assured them that their comments and suggestions would be considered for formulation of tax policies or initiating facilitative measures for taxpayers. Chairman assured that FBR was taking all possible steps to facilitate the taxpayers. He also requested the taxpayers to visit their nearest RTO and Collectorate for redressal of any problem confronted by them.
Chairman FBR has already strictly instructed all the field offices to resolve all outstanding issues of taxpayers.
Meanwhile, Inland Revenue Enforcement Network (IREN) Squad of Regional Tax Office, Rawalpindi, in a major counter-evasion operation, has seized two trucks which were illegally transporting non-tax paid counterfeit cigarettes for supply into local market. The trucks were loaded with 300 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes of Classic Brand, and 300 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes of Kissan Brand containing 6 million cigarette sticks.
Market value of the seized cigarettes comes to Rs. 18,900,000/- involving unpaid duties and taxes at Rs. 12,646,500/-. Some of the counterfeit cigarette brands are manufactured in AJK, and then transported across into Pakistani markets without payment of duty and taxes.
Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Member (Inland Revenue Operations) visited RTO, Rawalpindi and met the senior officers as well as the members of the raiding squad. He also appreciated Dr. Khalid Mahmood Lodhi, Chief Commissioner, RTO, Rawalpindi and his enforcement drive to curb movement of illicit cigarettes on the roads. He also announced special reward for the members of the raiding squad and encouraged them to continue working with full commitment and integrity.
The Member also apprised the RTO, Rawalpindi IREN staff that from July 1, 2021, Track & Trace System would be rolled out to cover tobacco manufacturing across the country, and that AJK Government had approached Federal Board of Revenue to extend the scope of Track & Track System to cigarette manufacturing units located inside AJK territory.
The Member further stated that FBR was in the process of drafting new rules where-under cigarette brands registered with FBR could only be sold in Pakistani markets. It is expected that over the next few months implementation of Track & Trace System and its extension into AJK, coupled with IREN’s valiant drive would help overcome the menace of counterfeit, illicit and non-tax paid cigarettes in the market.