SIALKOT: Sialkot Tax Bar Association (STBA) President Shahid Mehmood has regretted the delay in the establishment of Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) camp office at the export-oriented city despite a lapse of four months and demanded early setting up of the office.
Talking to Customs Today, Mehmood informed that the STBA had long been struggling for the FTO camp office in Sialkot, adding that they had taken up their demand with the FTO during his visit to Sialkot in April 2014.
“Finally all our hectic efforts bore fruit as the Federal Tax Ombudsman Secretariat, Islamabad accepted our demand and issued directives vide a letter on June 18, 2014 for the establishment of FTO camp office,” he said. Mehmood said that the directives declared that “all complaints pertaining to custom, sales tax, federal excise duty and income tax etc. of Sialkot region shall be heard at the Sialkot camp office with immediate effect and Advisor (Incharge) Lahore was advised to arrange venue for hearing.”
The STBA chief revealed that the core issue the STBA had been grappling with was the extension in bar room, adding that the tax bar was consisted of about 60 members whereas the existing space in the bar room was too little to cater to the needs of the members. “Many a times they have discussed the issue with the officials concerned and have sought some extra space linked to the bar room for the desired extension,” he informed, adding that unfortunately neither the FBR nor the other officers concerned did nothing to address the issue.
He urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to consider the matter on sympathetic grounds so that the longstanding issued could be resolved in a better manner.
“Look the FBR chairman hold the key to get the STBA extension issue resolved either through provision of extra space adjacent to the existing bar room or its relocation to in any other part of the RTO Sialkot,” he pointed out.
Shahid Mehmood complained that there was no independent/permanent Commissioner Appeal in the Sialkot RTO having more than 12 million taxpayers, adding that all appeal/cases pertaining to Sialkot RTO used to be marked to Commissioner Inland-Revenue (Appeal) Gujranwala who heard these cases at camp office in Sialkot. However, after his posting, the seat fell vacant and charge was additionally assigned to CIR (A) Lahore, he added.
The STBA president said that the CIR (A) Lahore had been reluctant to hear cases pertaining to this region at Sialkot or even at Gujranwala, adding that all such cases of the Sialkot RTO had been heard at Lahore which caused great problems for the bar members.
Mehmood said that finally they approached the FBR Member IR, urging him to restore the permanent seat of CIR (A) for Sialkot Zone. “We also urged the Member IR to advise the Commissioner IR (Appeal) Gujranwala to arrange a camp office at RTO Sialkot to hear all such cases until the permanent post is created,” he claimed.
The STBA president boasted that now with the grace of Almighty Allah, and the bar efforts, the seat of Commissioner Inland-Revenue (Appeal) had been restored in Zone Sialkot. He also expressed the hope that the new Commissioner (Appeal) would be appointed soon to facilitate taxpayers.