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FPCCI seeks SC protection against FBR powers

By Our Staff Reporter 2021-07-15
KARACHI: The acting president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Nasir Khan, has urged the Supreme Court to protect the business community as the `discretionary` powers of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have been expanded in the federal budget of the current financial year.

Speaking at a press conference at the Federation House on Wednesday along with other businessmen, he said Section 203A (powers to arrest) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, would only result in increase in corruption and harassment.

Mr Khan said although Section 203A had been amended through introduction of slabs the powers to arrest and prosecute would create fearful and discouraging environment for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He termed Section 203A equivalent to NAB`s law and said the provision should be added to make the FBR accountable if it could not establish any corruption or tax evasion charge. He said the government had not incorporated practical, business-friendly and growth-promoting proposals of the FPCCI in the 2021-22 budget.

According to a press release issued by the FPCCI, Mr Khan pointed out that a blanket exemption of federalexcise duty (FED) had been allowed without surveying and quantifying the genuine needs and demands of people of tribal areas.

This would renderindustriesin adjacent regions and all over the country uncompetitive in comparison to those industrial units which were exempt from FED.

He said there was a strong possibility that industrial units might exploit the FED exemption and utilise it to produce for regions other than tribal areas. `There must be a strict mechanism to avoid misuse of the FED exemption and subsequent prosecution,` he added.

He said the FPCCI had sent its recommendations on tax systemreformsandsimplificationof taxratestotheprime minister who instructed the FBR to start a consultative process with the Federation but it did not do that.

He said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had promised that the budget would not be made without consulting the FPCCI but unfortunately that promise was also not kept.

The acting FPCCI chief suggested that corporate courts should be established in the country to counter and balance the weak policies of the successive governments and ensure protection to SMEs.

He said that surprisingly the FBR had made a banker the head of its Budget Anomalies Committees but he had no understanding of trade, SMEs and economic aff airs.

Convener of the FPCCI`s Budget Advisory Council Zakaria Usman urged the prime minister to resolve antibusiness and anti-growth issues and said the FPCCI was ready to resolve all outstanding issues through discussion and a mutually-beneficial dialogue.