KARACHI: Director General National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sindh, Col. (Retd) Siraj Naeem has said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was in contact with NAB and a study was under way so that the country’s tax regime could be streamlined with a view to effectively deal with serious loopholes in the existing taxation system.
This study will be completed in the next 6 to 8 months, he said, adding that people would definitely pay all their taxes, if they are sure that taxes being paid by them were not falling into hands of corrupt elements and were being submitted to the national exchequer for their welfare.
DG NAB was speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Thursday. Senior Vice President KCCI, Mohammad Ibrahim Kasumbi, Former Senior Vice President KCCI, Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Former Vice President KCCI, Nasir Mehmood, Chairman of Income Tax and Federal Excise Duty Sub-Committee, Hassan Sheikh Vohra and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
DG NAB said that the Bureau was mostly dealing with cases pertaining to tax refunds but they were trying their best to fully assist and cooperate with businessmen with a view to minimize their hardships as much as they can during the interrogation process.
He assured that genuine issues of any businessman under NAB’s investigation would surely be resolved. He also extended support and cooperation to members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
To a question regarding issues being suffered by Iron and Steel Merchants since 2008 when Pakistan Steel Mills faced serious financial losses, DG NAB assured that all these cases will be once again reexamined by the Bureau in order to give some relief to perturbed businessmen and they will get every opportunity to give their opinion.
Responding to another question, DG NAB said that any case of corruption against NAB official becomes number one priority for the bureau and the chances of corruption by NAB officers were minimum due to a number of checks and balances. He further clarified that NAB was not receiving a single rupee in any plea bargain as all the recovered funds are directly submitted to the national or provincial exchequers.
Earlier, while welcoming DG NAB, Senior Vice President KCCI, Mohammad Ibrahim Kasumbi underscored the need to curb the menace of corruption as government departments cannot work effectively without the accomplishment of accountability.
He said that Karachi Chamber has always been raising voice against discretionary powers to various government departments, particularly the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as KCCI strongly believes that discretionary powers to any department would result in nurturing corruption.
Kasumbi was of the view that Pakistani businessmen and investors, due to complex and unfriendly policies, have started shifting their capital by investing heavily in numerous real estate projects in Middle East. This was happening due to complex taxation procedures, discretionary powers, widespread corruption and lack of accountability which, Kasumbi said, will not be favorable for Pakistan’s economy. “An effective strategy to deal with corruption was a must in order to stop flight of capital and pull the country out of ongoing economic crisis”, he added.
SVP KCCI, while expressing deep concerns over low tax-to-GDP ratio, mentioned that instead of enhancing the taxpayers base, the FBR continues to squeeze the existing taxpayers which was highly unfair whereas the tax evaders continue to live luxurious lives and keep themselves away from tax net because of serious loopholes in the existing taxation system.
Referring to the grievances being faced by many businessmen belonging to Iron and Steel sector whose cases were being investigated by NAB after PSM suffered severe financial losses in 2008, Kasumbi pointed that due to NAB notices and interrogation in various cases, businessmen from Karachi Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association (KISMA) were unwilling to buy any goods from Pakistan Steel which has kept PSM’s activities and earnings very limited. In this, regard, He asked DG NAB to look into this matter and give some relief to perturbed businessmen.
Chairman of Income Tax & Federal Excise Duty Sub-Committee, Hassan Sheikh, while referring to 7922 Afghanistan-bound missing transit containers, opined that the role of clearing agents and cross-border clearing agents should be defined clearly as they cannot be held responsible for the missing containers.