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Showing posts with label FBR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FBR. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

FTO orders FBR to refund decided cases of exporters’ claim

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), Abdur Rauf Chaudhry, has ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to refund and clear all such refund claims to the exporters that have been decided. 

While addressing the members of Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry on May 13, the FTO announced that, in order to facilitate the exporters, he by himself would approach the FBR to make payments of already settled refund claims within the specified time limit. 

He declared that he will also instruct the FBR to arrange the publishing of Customs’ daily list of Import and Export through Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL) in order to facilitate the business community and to promote the transparency in the international business transactions. 

Responding to a question he noticed that the demand of Tool Tax twice at Karachi Northern Bypass which tantamount to double taxation would be addressed in accordance with law in the larger public interest. The FTO also assured to monitor the expenses being made by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) from export development surcharge meant for the promotion of export trade in accordance with relevant legal provisions but grossly misused. 

In his welcome address, President LCCI, Ismail Suttar said that the institution of FTO has risen to the expectations of those about one million Pakistanis who had fallen prey to official apathy, incompetence and maladministration. 

It is the satisfaction for all concerned that this institution has disposed of about 70,000 cases by the end of 2013 which is really quite appreciative and an exemplary performance for other public institutions. The FTO Office is also watching the pending cases of sales tax refund claims amounting to more than Rs 97 billion and the issues relating to this matter. 

In our opinion the reduction of the rate of sales tax and income tax, as has been suggested by the business community, will not only reduce the complaints against the tax collecting agencies but also will broaden the tax-base in the country. 

Regarding the matter that when your FTO decides any case against the FBR, who file an appeal with the Office of the President of Pakistan and this takes quite a long time to be decided and thus the significance of your justified judgment goes in vain. 

This has been a general conception amongst the business community. Earlier Advisor to FTO Office, Quetta, Mr. Justice (R) Muhammad Nadir Khan, Advisor to FTO Regional Office, Karachi, Manzoor Ahmed Kureshi and President, Lasbela Chamber, Ismail Suttar highly appreciated the office of FTO, which is a last resort for the aggrieved members of the business community to get relief. 

He said that it’s quite encouraging that majority of members of Lasbela Chamber have no issues pertaining to taxation because of the efficiency of commissionrate of Inland Revenue, Hub and the Collectorate of Customs at Gaddani. 

However he invited the attention of the FTO towards the problems of general nature like delay in issuing the Refund Cheques by FBR, the matters of expenses made from the fund of export development surcharge.

Dr. Muhammad Aslam, former President LCCI, appreciated the visit of FTO along with his colleagues to the Lasbela Chamber.

He also appreciated the business community that always plays the role of economic engine to ensure the continuation of economic activities and growth. 

The Collector of Customs, Gaddani, Syed Tanvir Ahmed, Additional Commissioner Inland Revenue, Hub, Abdur Rehman Khilji, former President LCCI, Dr Muhammad Aslam and Chairman LCCI Taxation Committee, Iqbal Ismail also spoke on the occasion.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Major Customs gang busted, 25 officers arrested

By Ikram Hoti

An international smuggling syndicate was busted by the Customs Intelligence on Monday and over 25 Customs officials, besides members of the gang, had been arrested, officials said.

As many as 13 officials are under the police custody, 21 Customs officials have been booked in Karachi (now allowed back on their jobs after a week-long suspension), 12 arrested in Peshawar and two in Lahore.

They had ganged up to evade duties and taxes of over Rs 230 billion in the past two years but those arrested were now exerting pressure to get the top Customs Intelligence officials removed from their posts and get the cases withdrawn.

At the Customs House, Karachi, as sources privy to the entire episode revealed, the suspected gang members were not just those booked but higher officials, too, who supervised clearance of the ISAF and Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) goods on fake papers (the containers never crossed Pak-Afghan border).

“These are influential officials and the gang they operate is well entrenched in the state machinery. They are not just making efforts to get the Customs Intelligence officials at the top and middle levels removed but have also launched a campaign through the FIA and other channels to get the Directorate General Customs Intelligence (DGCI) offices in Lahore vacated by exerting pressure on the owners of the buildings.”

In order to obtain the FBR version, this correspondent called its spokesman Israr Rauf repeatedly on Monday evening, but there was no response. The following SMS message was sent on his cell number (0300-8444212): “Why were Customs men booked in Karachi let off the hook? They were suspected of abetting the ISAF-container smuggling.”

DGCI, Lutfullah Virk, flatly refused to say anything. “Please, do not make calls to me again”, he said. Sources in Karachi and Peshawar, however, pointed out that the international syndicate of smugglers that operated in connivance with the Customs officials was actually busted when three tribal boys were caught from Torkham on the Pak-Afghan border about a month ago on suspicion of stealing the Customs computer user ID that helped access to the documentation operation of the ISAF and Transit Trade shipments from overseas to Afghanistan through Pakistan.

These three boys were the sons of tribesmen killed in a Customs-smuggler shootout about four years ago and were given Customs jobs under a government-jirga agreement as compensation.

They were working as helping staff and were frequent to the Customs offices at the border check-post where the computation of ISAF-ATT shipment-clearance documentation was routinely conducted.

As these boys sang to the investigators and coughed up the names of the technical staff that gave them out the user IDs, more arrests were made, as confirmed by Directorate General Customs Intelligence (DGCI), Islamabad.

Simultaneously, the DGCI was frustrated by the Karachi Customs as it was refused the relevant files helping its investigation on how more than 10,000 imported containers slipped off the records, mostly carrying banned items like liquor, auto-parts and other heavy-duty goods.

These were (40-ft) containers, which imported ISAF shipments from Western destinations, the UAE and Monaco ports.

The ISAF-declared consignments started disappearing about two years ago, and the sources said that the efforts to abort the investigation were also going on as they were approaching FBR high officials to ensure that the entire exercise of detecting the missing containers and export of banned items was suspended so that the big and the small fish in this racket might not be touched.

The DGCI took up with higher authorities the issue of refusal by the Karachi Customs to provide records on these containers and also shared its conclusions of the investigation conducted into the missing containers so far. This activity coincided with three other important events:

a) The tribal boys revealed that most of the missing containers were ISAF-declared in Karachi, then Afghan Transit Trade shipments in Nowshera (on fake documents). These containers were shown having been transported outside Pakistan, while they were seal-opened, offloaded and the goods were sold out in the Pakistani markets.

b) An internal audit was conducted by the Peshawar Customs, which revealed that there existed a syndicate of smugglers that had penetrated into the department’s sensitive shipment-handling (duties-taxes collecting) data-monitoring-computing offices in Karachi, Peshawar, Nowshera and Torkhum, to ensure that the forged ISAF-shipment plus ATT-shipment papers of goods declaration were accepted as legal.

c) A committee of investigators was formed by the FBR.

It is pertinent to mention that the names of officials that allowed them to use their ID, have not been listed properly by the relevant authorities. They included the deputy collector level Customs officials, superintendents and more than 10 inspectors. They form part of the smuggling syndicate but investigations are yet to be completed about them.

The story does not end here. DGCI officials recorded after cross checking of the export documents over the past couple of years that 70 containers out of 10,000 were confirmed to have been cleared on fake ISAF-ATT papers. Others too were allowed clearance by succumbing to the same trick applied by the international smugglers’ syndicate, which had penetrated into the fabric of Pakistan Customs.

The officials cleared more than 70 containers — 36 confirmed with fake papers — carrying poppy-seed (khashkhash) for export to European destinations. There was no news if these shipments were intercepted on the high seas or at the ports of delivery (most of them are believed to have touched the shores of Turkey), as the exporters’ (a bogus Karachi company) records reveal.

A manager of the company has been arrested and several others booked, while the relevant Karachi Customs staffs were suspended. They went on strike and the FBR capitulated allowing them back on their jobs with a warning when the investigation was completed and indicated their involvement, they would be arrested and charged for allowing export of a dangerous banned item under the declaration papers of rice and pulses. (The News)