The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran has criticised the ‘NAB-tainted’ politicians for opposing the joint move of government and small traders for enhancing tax base, warning the government of strong protest if it stepped back and withdrew voluntary tax compliance scheme.

APAT central general secretary Naeem Mir was addressing a press conference on Wednesday at Lahore Press Club. He was accompanied by traders’ leaders including Rana Shehbaz, Agha Adnan, Sh Irfan Iqbal, Mian Khalil, Raja Hassan Akhtar and Abdul Wadood Aliv.

Mir said that after negotiations with traders, the income tax amended ordinance bill has been tabled in the National Assembly by the government. “All points of this package have been finalized with the approval of traders and opposition’s resistance is not understandable,” he said. He claimed, “This (package) is actually a move to broaden tax base not whitening of black money.” First time in the history, he claimed, the government has given incentives to traders of small and medium categories. Earlier, all amnesties were granted to smugglers only, he added.

Naeem Mir said that this scheme is best package for traders and we will go forward with this ‘plan of improving tax to GDP ratio’ in the country. APAT has attempted to bring additional one million new taxpayers in tax net in next three years and opposition is trying to politicize the issue and sabotaging the move of tax collection improvement, he said. He requested the opposition parties not to indulge the traders in their politics and favour the government’s ‘positive decisions’. He said with the scheme as many as 3.5 million traders across the country would get benefit and would enter in to the system. “The country’s 3.5 million traders were the main stakeholders in this scheme so we would like to convince the opposition parties in favour of the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016”, he added.

He claimed the scheme was specifically announced for the traders and it had nothing to do with big businessmen.

He said currently about 100,000 traders were paying their taxes and this package would help hundreds of thousands more traders to enter into tax net. A new one-page tax return form is ready and soon will be introduced for the new tax payers. He said that main reason for tax evasion in Pakistan was the complicated tax system that discouraged many potential taxpayers from coming into the tax net. He hoped that voluntary tax compliance scheme would have a positive impact as it would encourage documentation of the informal economy by allowing non-filing traders to regularize their undeclared working capital up to Rs 50 million by paying a nominal one percent tax for the tax year 2015.

Some countries have also announced similar amnesty schemes for increasing tax revenues, he said and added that considering the low tax revenue collection, it was a good measure to discourage unhealthy trends like money laundering and sending money through Havala.

He said currently there were hardly one million taxpayers out of the total population of over 190 million and the scheme would bring improvement in the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio. “Another advantage is that traders will be exempted from audit for four years and non-filers should take maximum benefit of it,” he added.

LCCI asks FBR to stop conducting raids on business premises

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to stop conducting raids on business premises as the raids are spoiling businesses and giving bad name to the government.

In a statement issued here, LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed said that undue notices and raids on the business premises have created an atmosphere of harassment amongst the business community.

They said it was very unfortunate that despite clear direction of the government, the bureaucracy is creating an atmosphere of harassment for the business doing people who are backbone of the economy.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the manufacturing sector is already passing through very critical times.

They said that the private sector was ready to supplement all the government efforts aimed at revival of economic activities in the country if they are provided breathing space but in the presence of such anti business tactics, it would be very difficult for the private sector to continue with their businesses.