LAHORE  -  Trade and industrial associations and chambers across the country have given the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) April 10 deadline for acceptance of their demands.  

Till then, chambers will hoist black flags on their premises and office-bearers and executive committees will wear black bands in protest.  

The representatives of chambers of commerce and industry and trade and industrial associations at a convention on “FBR’s Discretionary Powers” at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce an Industry said that despite repeated appeals, discretionary powers of FBR officials had not been withdrawn. They said this was the biggest hurdle in the way of broadening of the tax net.  

The representatives of Lahore, Chakwal, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum, Karachi, Khanewal, Mohmand Agency, Peshawar, Quetta, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Sheikhupura, Shikarpur, Sialkot, Vehari, Hazara, Faisalabad, Mardan, Lahore Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Air Cargo Agents, All Pakistan Cotton Power Looms, All Pakistan Dry Fruit Importers and Exporters, All Pakistan Textile Mills, All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills, Fleet Operators Association, Pakistan Cotton Ginners, Pakistan Electric Fan, Pakistan Ethanol Manufacturers, Pakistan Kiryana Merchants, Pakistan Steel Linepiple Industry, Pakistan Steel Melters, Pakistan Tanners, Pakistan Vanaspati, Pakistan Yarn Merchants, Rice Exporters, Travel Agents, Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers and Builders and Developers Associations attended the convention. 

On the occasion, participants of the convention issued a joint declaration, saying that “oppression of FBR staff has become unbearable. Businessmen are working in difficult conditions, but instead of giving due honour, FBR staff is twisting their arm and blackmailing them, therefore discretionary powers should be withdrawn immediately.” 

The convention urged the government to withdraw the draconian provisions and laws giving immense discretionary powers acquired through last four Finance Bills, to officers of the Inland Revenue and field formations. This is the core issue and is resulting in hardship, loss of productivity and mental torture to the business community. These laws have kept a large number of potential taxpayers out of the tax regime. In fact, these laws are a deterrent to broadening of tax base and are promoting the culture of tax evasion. They urged the government to implement their recommendations. 

LCCI President Abdul Basit said that during last three years tax collection had increased by 60 percent whereas the number of persons who filed tax returns had decreased by 200,000. It simply shows that the FBR could not succeed in broadening the tax net and it was squeezing the existing taxpayers. Revenue collection through indirect taxes is 62 percent of total tax collection, which cannot be encouraged. Pakistan lacks culture of tax compliance due to unfair taxation system. Harmful taxation that hinders business and trade in the country should be eliminated. “We firmly believe that broad based reforms in taxation system in consultation with the private sector are need of the hour,” they said.