ISLAMABAD      -    Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Shabbar Zaidi on Thursday disclosed that government had received the evidence of Pakistanis who had $7-$8 billion in bank accounts of other countries.

He said that Pakistan had signed an agreement with Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2016. The agreement had helped FBR to exchange data with 28 countries. The FBR had so far received data of offshore accounts of 57,450 Pakistanis. Among them, around 378 people had more than $5 billion in their accounts. However, overall, the government had received the evidence of Pakistanis who had $7-$8 billion in bank accounts of other countries.

He made these remarks in National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which was held under the chairmanship of MNA Asad Umar. Umar said that there are 247 people (having offshore companies or accounts) who had not availed the recent tax amnesty scheme. The FBR should take action against them if they do not disclose their assets. FBR Director General (International Taxation) briefed the Committee with regard to Automatic Exchange of information, Data received from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its follow up plan.

He explained the difficulties in getting the data and then interpreting that data because only having the names of individuals was not enough. After detailed presentation, the Committee recommended that FBR will further brief the Committee in November, 2019 in this regard. Chairperson, Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCoP) briefed the Committee about the reasons behind increase of price in wheat flour and sugar sector in the country. She said that Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) was engaged in fixing the prices of flour and provided its members a platform to exchange commercially sensitive information and strategic data on flour prices, which was prima facie violation of Section. She further informed the reasons for increase in wheat prices, which were related to increase in fertilizer prices by 16.7pc, unavailability of canal water and irrigation flows in Quarter-2 of financial year 2019 is 6.3pc lower than last five years.

While talking about the sugar situation in Pakistan, she said that after factoring in the sales tax and impact of paying farmer the government fixed price during the period of glut as submitted by sugar mill representatives, the sudden sky rocketing of the price of sugar in the current year still appears to be an anomaly given that the supply of sugar still appears to be in excess of its demand. Committee recommended that CCoP will deliver comprehensive briefing on the working and functioning of the Commission. The Committee Members expressed their concern on the PFMA cartel and sugar sector.    

The Committee discussed the Calling Attention regarding imposition of huge taxes on marble processing units in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa resulting into closure of processing units, forcing the industrialist to shift to tax exempted areas of erstwhile FATA/PATA thus leaving thousands of workers jobless, and recommended that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will furnish its reply to the Committee for further consideration.    The Committee discussed the agenda pertaining to the recommendations of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products to uplift agriculture development in the country. Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MoNFSR) informed the Committee that MoNFSR has worked out various projects under the vision of agriculture emergency for the development of agriculture sector. MNA/Convener of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products Syed Fakhar Imam, stated that agro economy has been handicapped due to lack of research work. He was of the opinion that major portion of allocated funds by the government have been utilised for salaries and other administrative business instead of research work.