LAHORE – Around 60 to 70 per cent of almost all commercial banks branches remained open on Sunday in provincial capital for collection of income tax from contesting candidates, besides issuing clearance certificates to those borrowers who have cleared their overdue liabilities.

A bank official said that on directives of central bank, the National Bank of Pakistan braches which deal with collection of income tax remained open on Sunday, despite official off-day, to collect income tax. Besides, other several branches of other private commercial banks also remained opened to clear checks and pay-orders of their accountholders, sent from the NBP branches, as those banks braches do not collect income tax.

No one in the banking circles was ready to come on record to disclose the exact figure of transaction made on Sunday when banks are normally closed.

They did not specify the exact amount utility bills collection or other taxes amount, saying the service would continue till 12 of midnight and they could not hint at the confirmed amount. “It is difficult to calculate how many transactions were struck or how much money was transferred in just one day since all banks opened and many were involved in such deals”, a bank official explained on the condition of anonymity.

Bank officials said that the branches were not opened for general customers and did not deal the routine work. Only limited staff, consisting of just 4 to 5 officials, was present in those branches, who deal with cash and clearing of cheques and pay-orders, including manager operation.

They said NBP has a total of 89 branches in two regions of Lahore, including Centre and East. Almost 60 per cent branches collect income tax while all other braches deal other tax matters including sales tax and property tax collection.

They said that the State Bank of Pakistan, on request of FBR, had advised all the banks to open their offices and branches dealing with credit information on Sunday from 8 am to midnight to address issues regarding credit information of the contesting candidates.

Sources said that the State Bank of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue have already assured the Election Commission of Pakistan that ECP would have full access to the data for scrutiny of the candidates ahead of the next general elections.

SBP and FBR viewed that transparent and fair election is a common goal and that both institutions will fully cooperate with Election Commission.

On Sunday, the national tax numbers of all candidates were verified from the FBR, while the State Bank shared the credit history of all the candidates. The central bank also shared information available at Electronic Credit Information Bureau.

The SBP had earlier informed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the credit information position being provided by the SBP was as of February 28, 2013. The SBP had suggested that the ECP may consider clearance certificates from the concerned banks in case of those borrowers who have settled their loans after February 28, 2013 to determine the eligibility of the candidates.