World Bank Country Director meets FBR chief

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American Business Council offers support to FBR in its fight against illicit trade; FBR holds in abeyance new property valuation till January 16, 2022 earlier finalized by it on Monday

Raza Kazmi

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank Country Director, Najy Benhassine called on Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue, Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed here at FBR (HQs) to review the implementation of the World Bank’s flagship Program, Pakistan Raises Revenue (PRR). The WB Country Director appreciated the efforts made by Chairman FBR and his team in implementing the instant program in letter and spirit and conveyed full satisfaction of the World Bank over the pace and progress of the Program. The FBR Team indicated the areas where FBR and World Band could achieve the agreed Program Deliverables through mutual efforts. Team FBR further emphasized on avenues in which the program could be made more effective in achieving the overarching objectives of ensuring a sustainable increase in revenues. The World Bank Team assured FBR of their continued support in the implementation of the Program.
Ambreen Iftikhar, Member (Reforms & Modernization), FBR, Nadeem Bashir, Project Director (PRR) and Khalid Jameel, Chief (Reforms & Modernization), FBR were also present during the meeting.
Meanwhile, four-member delegation from American Business Council, led by Adnan Asad, Chairman on its Government Relations Subcommittee called on Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue Shaukat Tarin and Chairman FBR Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed here at FBR Headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
In his address on the occasion, Adnan Asad explained the scope and significance of American Business Council and touched upon its three key areas- Advocacy, Awareness and Advocacy- of collaborative engagement with relevant stakeholders including the Government of Pakistan. He expressed his keen interest to collaborate with the Ministry of Finance and FBR to fight the menace of illicit trade in consumer goods based on government backed data. The proposed MoU includes a joint research that will be formulated as per the Government’s needs and areas of focus so that it could lead to informed policy decisions.
In his presidential address, Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue, Shaukat Tarin reiterated the Government’s priority on increasing tax to GDP ratio to 20% in the next 4-5 years. He identified Tobacco and Beverages as the two key sectors most affected by illicit trade and emphasized on the pressing need to conduct quality research into the possible revenue leakages in these important sectors with clear findings and guidelines to plug the same.
The Advisor thanked the delegation for their much needed support and also directed them to work closely with FBR as well as private sector to counter illicit trade, together. All members of FBR were also present during the meeting.
Meanwhile, taking cognizance of a number of complaints from across the country received from various stakeholders including real estate agents and town developers about extraordinary rise in property rates resulting from the recently notified property valuation, FBR has issued detailed instructions this evening through an Office Memorandum (OM) on the procedure to be adopted to review the anomalies in the property rates and rationalize the same.
Accordingly, it has been decided to review and revisit the notified valuation tables wherever overvaluation or undervaluation is pointed out by a stakeholder. It has been stated in the instructions that all Chief Commissioners Inland Revenue (CCIRs) shall constitute Valuation Review Committees (VRCs), and notify them by December 10, 2021.
Any stakeholder having any reservations about valuations may lodge a representation before VRC by December 15, 2021. Chief Commissioners will undertake meaningful consultative process with the stakeholders and engage SBP’s approved valuers for determination of values, which could be either more or less than the lately notified valuations.
It is pertinent to mention that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is empowered to determine fair market value of immovable properties in terms of section 68(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. Therefore, FBR vide SRO No.1534-1572(I)/2021, dated 01.12.2021 issued new valuation tables of properties across 40 major cities with a view to bringing them closer to the actual market prices.
However, certain objections from various stakeholders including real estate agents and housing societies have been received highlighting anomalies and aberrations in the newly notified valuation tables. Although, the notified valuations have been arrived at by FBR Field Formations through a rigorous consultative process and wherefore have largely been well-received, yet the possibility of error cannot be ruled out, and the same cannot be taken as carved in stone.
The VRCs shall decide upon the representations by January 10, 2022, and forward the same to FBR for notification. All recommendations made by VRCs vis-à-vis revaluations shall be re-notified on January 15, 2022, which shall come into force on January 16, 2022.