President disposes of 42 FBR pleas in cases of bogus sales Tax invoices
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has disposed of 42 representations of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in cases of bogus sales tax invoices, worth over Rs1.2 billion.
The FBR had filed the representations with the president, assailing the orders of Federal Tax Ombudsman passed in suo motu cases, in which bogus sales tax refunds were reimbursed fully or partially by the delinquent officials of FBR to the fake claimants.
The huge scam was unearthed by FBR’s Directorate General Intelligence & Investigation-Inland Revenue and the Red Alerts were issued to the concerned field formations. However, no action was initiated against the FBR officials and the fake claimants.
The FTO on taking suo motu notice of the matter had issued directions to the FBR to investigate and identify the officials involved in verification of the registered persons (RPs) and initiate a disciplinary action.
In pursuance of the FTO’s recommendations and also the previous orders of the president of Pakistan passed in similar cases, the FBR constituted six fact-finding inquiry committees to deal with 130 suo motu cases relating fake refund claims.
The terms of reference (ToRs) of the committees were meant to identify the wrongdoings and involvement of officials in each case, and fix responsibility. Also, these committees were tasked to prepare a draft charge sheet and statement of allegations with respect to each official and submit a report to the board within 30 days.
President Alvi, in view of the findings of the committees, disposed of the representations of the FBR pertaining to the cases in which full or partial refunds were paid fraudulently.
He directed the FBR for submission of a monthly implementation report to the Federal Tax Ombudsman’s Secretariat till the completion of the action on each case. He also ordered to afford an opportunity of show cause and hearing to the official in case of any departmental action proposed against him, to satisfy the requirement of due process and the principles of natural justice.
Meanwhile, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Sunday announced a schedule for four hours daily shutdown of its website till August 30, 2021 for upgrading technology infrastructure.
In a communication with the taxpayers, the FBR said, “In order to provide seamless online taxation services, we are upgrading our technology infrastructure. All of our Inland Revenue Services including Iris, eFBR, Tax Asaan, Sales Tax, etc, will be temporarily unavailable from 00:00 till 04:00 hours every day till August 30, 2021.”
However, Customs-related WeBOC and OneCustoms services will be continuously available during this time, the FBR added. The FBR said it regrets any inconvenience caused in advance and looks forward to serving its customers with improved efficiency.
Earlier last week, hackers attacked Pakistan’s largest data centre run by the FBR and managed to break the hyper-V software by Microsoft, bringing down all the official websites operated by the tax machinery.
“There has been a national crisis like situation since 2:00am Saturday morning and we may not be out of the woods by Sunday evening,” a senior official said while explaining the gravity of the situation.
“The FBR’s website is temporarily down for scheduled maintenance,” read the website when it was opened. However, the authority issued a general press release regarding in-progress service optimisation activities at the FBR House Data Centre.
The FBR explained that the technical team is currently migrating services. The completion of this migration shall result in the increased overall productivity of FBR IT Operations. This migration is necessary to facilitate the up-gradation of the system in order to enhance the best services to our clients, the statement added. – TLTP