Karachi, January 08, 2016 (PPI-OT): Federal Ombudsman M. Salman Faruqui has advised the business and industrial community of Karachi to take up the issue of pending refund claims of genuine cases with the Tax Ombudsman who is empowered to take decision within 60 days.
Exchanging views during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Federal Ombudsman reiterated that the business and industrial community must submit their formal complaints pertaining to refund claims to tax ombudsman who has powers equivalent to the judge of Supreme Court and is authorized to take Suo moto notice to deal with such matters.
Tax Ombudsman Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, Banking Ombudsman Anisul Hasnain, Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women Justice (Retd.) Yasmin Abbasey, Chairman Businessmen Group and former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairman BMG and Former President KCCI Tahir Khaliq, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir, Senior Vice President KCCI Zia Ahmed Khan, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Naeem Sharif, Former Presidents KCCI AQ Khalil and Majyd Aziz along with KCCI Managing Committee members were present on the occasion.
Commenting on the overall performance of Federal Ombudsman, Salman Faruqui informed that around 16,000 complaints were being received at the Federal Ombudsman every year and the decision against each complaint is taken within 60 days. He pointed out that during the last two-and-a-half years, a total of 207,000 complaints were decided and there was absolutely no backlog. “Moreover, during the last three months of 2015, all the complaints were being resolved within 45 days which clearly indicates the improved performance of Federal Ombudsman”, he added.
He further told the business and industrial community that Federal Ombudsman will soon be undertaking a campaign on experimental basis in which they plan to decide cases within 15 days by sending FO teams to around 500 districts and tehsils across Pakistan. “It is going to be a unique initiative as this has not been practiced by any ombudsman around the world”, he added.
Salman Faruqui said that Federal Ombudsman was fully authorized to take Suo Moto notice and hundreds of Suo Moto notice have been taken during his tenure as Federal Ombudsman. “Federal Ombudsman is a poor man’s court who do not needs to spent any money for seeking justice”, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli paid glowing tribute of Salman Faruqui who dedicatedly served the entire nation throughout his bureaucratic career by serving in different capacities, particularly as Communication Secretary, Commerce Secretary and many other such high-profile designations from time to time.
He pointed out that it was a well-known fact that Karachi has always been ignored and it continues to receive the treatment of a ‘step mother’ as all taxes and laws were being devised and implemented for Karachi city only. Most of these laws being devised by the FBR are for the business and industrial community of Karachi and even the newly introduced ‘Amnesty scheme’ will only bring traders of Karachi into tax net for period of three years and after that, they will once again be out of the tax net.
Referring to numerous arguments on Karachi city’s contribution of more than 68 percent revenue, Siraj Teli claimed that no matter what they say, but to date Karachi city’s revenue contribution is well above 60 percent. In this regard, he requested the Federal Ombudsman to order the FBR to compile city-wise details of revenue contribution and also give details of revenue being generated from ports and what was being sent to the upcountry from ports in Karachi. Even if all such revenue generation sources were fragmented from Karachi city’s total revenue contribution, it will still be around 60 percent, Siraj Teli added.
“We are not saying that spend the entire revenue on Karachi city but at least give this city its rightful share and at least accept the ground reality that Karachi continues to play the leading role in country’s economy and contributes massively to the national kitty”, BMG Chairman stressed, adding that if they really want to put Pakistan in the right direction then everyone will have to accept and speak the truth.
Criticizing the Federal Board of Revenue for its biased policies, Siraj Teli said that Pakistan’s revenue can easily be raised by just locking up the FBR. As a result, the business and industrial community will voluntarily come forward to pay their taxes which would surely help in doubling the country’s revenue as compared to what was currently being collected through the FBR.
He was of the opinion that FBR officials take pleasure in harassing the taxpayers and do not bother to take action against tax evaders.
He noted that FBR has admitted almost eight years ago that they have identified and have details of around 3 million individuals who live in huge houses, drive luxurious cars, use credit cards, frequently travel abroad and their kids are also studying abroad but none of such individuals have been brought into the tax net as FBR never bothers to take action against elements and continues to squeeze and harass the existing taxpayers. It seems that 80 percent of these tax evaders were either highly influential or accomplices of the politicians or even bureaucrats, he added and requested the Federal Ombudsman to look into this serious matter and order the FBR to publicize details of such tax evaders.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), S.M. Muneer expressed deep concern over declining exports of Pakistan which was mainly happening because of the global recession. He said that billions of rupees of refund claims have been pending since long and if these refund claims are released, Pakistan’s exports can be raised by at least US$4 to US$ 5 billion by the end of current year.
Earlier, while welcoming the Federal Ombudsman, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir underscored the need to raise awareness about the scope of Federal Ombudsman as majority of the people, including the business and industrial community, were usually unaware of FO’s role towards resolving the grievances being faced in dealing with various governmental agencies.
“There is also a need to ensure access to Federal Ombudsman at grass root level, preferably at district level, so that common man could easily understand their role and benefit from this facility”, he opined, adding that social media can also be utilized by Federal Ombudsman as it has been observed that people find themselves pretty much comfortable in highlighting their grievances on social media websites.
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