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FPCCI says tax ordinance anti-business and unfair

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KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo has termed the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 a conspiracy against the government and conflicting to Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin’s vision of due consultations with all stakeholders before announcing any taxation measures.
In a statement issued on Monday, Maggo also expressed his fears that this may lead to agitation for being grossly unfair. He condemned the human rights defying sweeping powers to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and enabling it to disconnect mobile phone, electricity and gas connections of the non-filers of income tax returns.
It also empowers National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open income tax cases as old as 20 years through accessing tax records through NADRA, he added.
Maggo added that it was FPCCI’s proposal to disconnect the connections of commercial and industrial non-filers; but, this ordinance does not take due and fair procedure of separation of executive and adjudication into account. The ordinance vaguely mentions under-assessed income tax filers and provides blanket discretionary powers to the income tax officers, he added.
Pointing out the challenges posed by mandatory online and digital payments, FPCCI Chief said, “Our economy runs on the sales made on post-dated cheques and credit is usually for 2 months and the businesses cannot comply with this condition in the new ordinance.”
The FPCCI chief maintained that the ordinance contains budgetary measures and these cannot be taken without due consultation with stakeholders and the ordinance has already come into force from September 15, 2021, adding the FPCCI considers this anti-business and unfair.
He said that FPCCI categorically demands to hold the ordinance in abeyance until and unless all stakeholders are consulted. The FPCCI remains committed and available for dialogue and discussion for the reforms in the taxation system and broadening of the tax base.
Khawaja Shahzeb Akram, SVP FPCCI, pointed out the conspicuous excesses being permitted to FBR under the amendment; and, observed that it will only open the door to even more corruption in the taxation system and result in an overwhelming increase in harassment of the business community.
The FPCCI’s deputy chief added that in the rest of the world, the governments are giving tax breaks and incentives to SMEs to ward off the losses caused by Covid-19; and, in Pakistan, the government is trying to reinvent the wheel and strangulate the business, industry and trade community of Pakistan.
Haji Ghulam Ali, a former president of FPCCI & a former senator as well, expressed his shock over the amendment and its potential to be misused against opponents. He said that NAB & FBR have already created enough fearful and discouraging environment that adding further harsh pieces of legislation will destroy the economy irreversibly. He said that reopening the dead income tax cases of up to 20 years will not bring any more revenue in the government’s kitty. – TLTP