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ISLAMABAD: Finance Act 2020 has restricted the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE) to only provide real-time access to information of international travellers to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Earlier, the Finance Bill 2020 has specified real-time access to information and databases of the FIA and the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment with respect to details of international entry and exit of all persons and information pertaining to work permits, employment visas and immigration visas.

After an amendment to the Finance Bill 2020, now the Finance Act 2020 has limited the powers of the FBR to have access to information of the FIA with respect to details of international travel.

According to the Finance Act 2020, "56AB. Real-time access to information and databases.-(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, including but not limited to the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000, and the Emigration Ordinance, 1979, arrangements shall be made to provide real-time access of information and database to the Board in the prescribed form and manner by:

(a) the National Database and Registration Authority with respect to information pertaining to National Identity Card (NIC), Pakistan Origin Card, Overseas Identity Card, Alien Registration Card, and other particulars contained in the Citizen Database; (b) the Federal Investigation Agency and the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment with respect to details of international travel; (c) the Islamabad Capital Territory and Provincial and local land record and development authorities with respect to record-of-rights including digitized edition of record-of-rights, periodic record, record of mutations and report of acquisition of rights;(d) the Islamabad Capital Territory and Provincial Excise and Taxation Departments with respect to information regarding registration of vehicles, transfer of ownership and other associated record;

(e) all electricity suppliers and gas transmission and distribution companies with respect to particulars of a consumer, the units consumed and the amount of bill charged or paid: Provided that where the connection is shared or is used by a person other than the owner, the name and NIC of the owner and the user shall also be furnished:

Provided further that all electricity suppliers and gas transmission and distribution companies shall make arrangements by the 1st day of January, 2021 for allowing consumers to update the ratio of sharing of a connection or the particulars of users, as the case may be; and (f) any other agency, authority, institution or organization, notified by the Board.

The Board shall make arrangements for laying the infrastructure for real-time access to information and database under sub-section (1) and aligning it with its own database in the manner as may be prescribed.

Until real-time access to information and database is made available, such information and data shall be provided periodically in such form and manner as may be prescribed.

All information received under this section shall be used only for tax purposes and kept confidential, Finance Act 2020 added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020