ISLAMABAD-Federal Board of Revenue has issued strict instructions to the Directorate General of Intelligence & Investigation Customs, Islamabad and Chief Collector of Customs, Balochistan, Quetta and Chief Collector of Customs, North, Islamabad to implement the directions of the Prime Minister regarding prevention of smuggling of food items out of the country. 

The Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken a serious notice of the shortage of food items i.e. wheat/wheat flour, sugar, maize, maida, poultry, fresh fruits, vegetables and livestock etc. in the country. The Prime Minister has directed that all efforts may be made to control the smuggling of these food items out of the country. The federal government has introduced Covid-19 (Prevention of Smuggling) Ordinance-2020 to empower law enforcement agencies to stop the smuggling of food items, FBR added.

FBR has directed Pakistan Customs to deploy all their possible resources for the said task and make all endeavors in their areas of jurisdiction to control the smuggling, especially of food items. The customs authorities are further directed to keep close liaison with law enforcement agencies. FBR has directed to ensure strict vigilance at the time of clearance of export consignments to thwart any attempt of mis-declaration/smuggling of these items in the garb of normal items. FBR has directed Directorate General of I & I-Customs and Chief Collectors to submit the detail of steps taken and achieved results with the board and a fortnightly report on the 1st and 16th of every month may be sent by highlighting anti-smuggling performance in their areas.

Meanwhile, in other development, Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Member (Inland Revenue -Operations), FBR said that FBR would clear all pending refunds of business community with backlog and ICCI should share the list of pending refunds and exemption cases to address them. He said this while addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He visited ICCI along with Zubair Khan Secretary Sales Tax, Nasir Janjua Chief IR Analysis FBR and others. Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed said that the current fragmented tax system was not helpful for sustainable growth of economy and FBR was working to carve out a new tax system to reduce direct interaction, promote ease of doing business and transparency that would facilitate the taxpayers. This process would take 2-3 years and the business community would appreciate it. He said that promotion of industry, trade and exports was the first priority of FBR with revenue generation as second priority as promotion of businesses would translate into more tax revenue for the country. The new tax system would end harassment from taxpayers as direct interactions would be replaced with video link meetings for hearings.

He said that FBR would adopt e-audit policy to select minimal cases for audit through the system and promote transparency. He said that all big cases have been shifted to Large Taxpayer Units and Regional Tax Offices would now deal with small traders/businesses with focus on news taxpayers. He said that a Corporate Tax Office would be set up in Islamabad to handle the corporate tax cases. He said that agreements with traders/retailers would be revisited to address their concerns and make them acceptable for both sides. However, he said that POS was a reality and the business community should cooperate in its implementation. He assured that all highlighted tax issues of the business community would be taken care of to facilitate them. 

Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Ahmed Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that when business community was paying 100 percent input tax under Sec-8B of Sales Tax Act, they deserved its 100 percent adjustment against output tax as withholding 10 percent of input tax was not justified in these tough conditions. He said that refund cases of 2009 were still pending and stressed that all refunds should be automated for timely clearance. He said that a uniform policy for exemptions should be made and the last date for POS installation should be extended up to Dec 31, 2020. He said that FBR should reduce the 1.5 percent turnover tax on the steel industry, which accumulated into huge amounts. He urged that FBR should exempt manufacturers from withholding agents under Sec-236G and Sec-236H so that they could fully focus on promoting business activities. He said that turnover threshold for individuals/AOPs has been increased to Rs.100 million for treating them as withholding agents and emphasized that the same concession should also be given to the private limited companies having turnover of less than Rs.100 million. He said that FBR should develop a simplified tax return form to facilitate taxpayers.