ISLAMABAD: The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) assured the Federal Board Revenue of all-out support for its efforts to increase revenue collection and streamline taxation structure at a meeting wherein the OICCI presented tax proposals to FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa and Member Inland Revenue (IR) Shahid Hussain Asad. The meeting was followed by an interactive session between the FBR officials and the OICCI office-bearers. The FBR Member IR Operations and Member Customs also addressed the meeting.
Speaking on the occasion, OICCI President Asad S Jaffar appreciated the ongoing interaction of the FBR Chairman and his top team with key stakeholders like OICCI whose members contributed over Rs 700 billion annually to the federal and provincial revenue. He stressed that the OICCI key recommendations include restructuring of taxation system to facilitate investment and economic activity, facilitating honest taxpayers through timely settlement of issues, all types of income must be subjected to tax, elimination of SROs judicially and documentation of the economy be accelerated without any compromise.
OICCI CE/Secretary M Abdul Aleem thanked the FBR Chairman for meeting a key demand of the Chamber by issuing notification for offsetting provincial sales tax against FBR sales tax liability. Aleem presented the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Index rating where Pakistan had sharply slipped from being 75 in 2010 to 110 in 2014 which had considerable negative implications in attracting FDI in the country. One of the key irritant in EODB has been the complications on paying taxes including provincial and local taxes.
Voicing concern over frequent use of tax amnesty, the OICCI termed the trend `a disincentive to regular taxpayers’. OICCI’s 2014-15 taxation proposals include several tax broadening measures to increase the tax to GDP ratio – like effective enforcement and administrative reforms, filing of Tax Returns by all income earning segments and individuals earning more than the threshold, better and more effective utilization of Nadra database and other data from documented sources available to FBR. Other key proposals discussed were lowering of corporate tax rates, elimination or rationalisation of minimum tax regime, faster processing of tax refunds, increasing incentives for attracting FDI, and involvement of OICCI in the exercise to review existing SROs to ensure minimum impact on FDI and continuing documentation of the economy.
Aleem also mentioned that reversal of some important documentation measures which were introduced through the Finance Act 2013-14 were frustrating honest taxpayers. Furthermore, he suggested that FBR may consider reverting back to the old administrative structure of tax zones and cycles to identify new taxpayers.
FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa lauded the role of OICCI members who collectively contributed over one-third revenue collections in Pakistan. About the OICCI taxation proposals, the FBR chief informed that FBR plans to withdraw all SROs in an orderly manner soon and will ensure proper adjustments of SROs which are critically important for key factors in the economy. He informed that contrary to the general view, FBR did not have full access to various data bases, including that of Nadra.
However, FBR continued to review all tax broadening measures and expected that over 100,000 taxpayers would be added, annually, based on actions already initiated by FBR. In this respect, he also mentioned that FBR was reviewing the self-assessment scheme and would make some structural changes to ensure a transparent system which is not exploited by tax evaders.
The FBR chairman and his team also responded to various general and sector-specific questions from the participants and promised to review all matters along with the OICCI taxation proposals.