LAHORE: All Punjab Chambers of Commerce and Industry and trade associations have demanded the government to withdraw Regulatory Duty, withholding tax on bank transactions and FBR’s discretionary powers immediately or, otherwise, “we would gather outside the Parliament if our genuine demands are not accepted”, they said.
At a convention organised by Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Wednesday the participants issuing a joint communiqué pledged for defending the rights of the business community by asking the government for its action promptly and resolve these issues without further delay ‘of a single moment’.
The LCCI President Malik Tahir Javed presided over the convention while the LCCI Vice President Zeshan Khalil, former office bearers Sheikh Muhammad Asif, Mian Shafqat Ali, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Muhammad Ali Mian, Sohail Lashari, Abdul Basit, Aftab Ahmed Vohra, Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi, executive committee members, office-bearers and representatives of Chambers and trade and industrial associations spoke on the occasion.
They condemned imposition of Regulatory Duty on hundreds of items through SRO 1035(I)/2017 by October 16 and demanded its immediate withdrawal.
They also demanded the withdrawal of withholding tax on bank transactions with immediate effect. Chambers and trade associations urged the government to withdraw the draconian provisions and laws giving immense discretionary powers acquired through last four finance bills to the officers of Inland Revenue and field formation which is the core issue and 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, they said that these laws are a deterrent to broadening of the tax-base’, they added. While strongly denouncing the misuse of discretionary powers by the officers of Inland Revenue under sections 38-A, 38-B, 40-A, 40-B, 176, 177, they urged the government to withdraw these sections immediately.
The LCCI President Malik Tahir Javed said that withholding tax on cash withdrawal is related to the Income Tax Ordinance 236-P and 231-A. He said that withholding tax has not only hit the business community hard but also affected the banking sector as people have started using other medians for handling financial transactions.
He said that new Regulatory Duty regime would be hardly doing any service to the economy. Federal Board of Revenue should totally withdraw the recently imposed Regulatory Duty otherwise its destruction would be unimaginable.
The LCCI President said that unjustified levies like withholding tax are discouraging the new taxpayers and obstructing the expansion of tax net. He said that a new strategy will be evolved if these issues are not resolved immediately.
Malik Tahir Javed said that indirect taxes are being removed gradually throughout the world whereas in Pakistan these are contributing around 60 per cent to the revenue despite the fact that expenses on this practice are higher than the collections. He said that tax collection was increased by around 60 per cent from 2012-13 to 2015-16 but the number of tax filers reduced to 0.9 million from 1.4 million during this period.
The participants of the convention said that there are 3.5 million registered taxpayers out of which only around 1 million file their tax returns. The government should take all mandatory measures to ensure filing of returns by remaining 2.5 million individuals and businesses. The government claims that it always acts as a facilitator but in this scenario, it is entirely the opposite, they added.