Donations for construction of dams not liable to tax or duties: SC

The judgment stated that the donations could be made at all the branches of the State Bank of Pakistan, all treasury offices and branches of National Bank of Pakistan as well as other banks, including micro-finance banks


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday maintained that the contributions made to the Diamer-Bhasha & Mohmand Dams Fund would not be liable to any tax/duty whatsoever.

A four-member bench passed the written orders while hearing the case regarding construction of the two dams and contribution in a fund being established for the purpose.

The top court had emphasized the urgent need for construction of Dams and appealed to the nation to make its contribution in an account titled, “Supreme Court of Pakistan – Diamer-Bhasha & Mohmand Dams – Fund”.

The account has been set up to receive donations from the nation for the sole purpose of construction of the aforenoted Dams (Diamer-Bhasha & Mohmand Dams).

The judgment stated that the donations could be made at all the branches of the State Bank of Pakistan, all treasury offices and branches of National Bank of Pakistan as well as other banks, including micro-finance banks.

The orders said, “Branches of all banks (15000 approximately) across the country receiving such deposits shall prominently display banners on their entry points stating that donations/contributions are being received in these branches for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha & Mohmand Dams as ordered by the ‘Supreme Court of Pakistan’.

“The State Bank of Pakistan has set up a toll-free helpline No.021-111-723-273 for answering queries as well as receiving complaints from anyone interested in making a donation. Other banks shall also set up their separate helplines, which will be notified through their advertisements in the print and electronic media.”

The apex court maintained that branchless banking i.e. Omni/Easy Paisa, etc. operated by their approximately 400,000 agents across the country, would be made functional within 48 hours from today (Wednesday).

The Pakistani missions, as well as all branches of Pakistani banks abroad, would receive donations/contributions, it added.

The court directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue appropriate directions to the Pakistani missions abroad in consultation with the State Bank of Pakistan for receiving donations/contributions and transmission of the amounts received by them to the designated account of the Fund with the State Bank of Pakistan.

It added, “Subscribers of cellular mobile phone companies namely Mobilink (Jazz), Telenor, Zong and Ufone wishing to make donations/contributions may dial short code i.e. 8000 which will result in an automatic deduction of Rs 10.

“Aforesaid cellular mobile phone companies have voluntarily undertaken to run a media campaign of 5-8 seconds on the print and electronic media publicizing this initiative. These companies shall advertise the mode and manner through which contributions/donations through Jazz Cash and Easy Paisa can be made.”

The order noted that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had in consultation with the State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Print & Electronic Media Regulatory Authority prepared an advertisement campaign for the media to increase public awareness through the print as well as electronic media which would be run by all the print and electronic media houses/channels/FM radio stations free of cost as public service messages.

The Supreme Court also directed the Ministry of Law & Justice in consultation with Federal Board of Revenue to promulgate an ordinance for inter alia making appropriate amendments in different laws, including the Income Tax Ordinance to ensure that donations/contributions made to the Fund are not subjected to any taxes or deductions.

“The contributions made to the Fund shall be treated as contributions towards charitable purposes and shall not be liable to any tax/duty,” it added.

The apex court said any person making donations /contributions to the Fund would not be subjected to any inquiry or probe as to the sources of the funds utilized for making contributions/ donations by any department, authority or person.

The court also said it had not authorized any individual or group, etc to collect donations.

The matter was relisted for hearing July 30.