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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera has assured the industrial sector that the issues of maladministration, harassment during audit, delayed refunds, and withdrawal of income tax exemption to newly-established industrial undertakings would be taken up with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for policy changes in the budget (2021-22).

The issues were discussed threadbare during the meeting of Sukhera and the Islamabad Industrial Association (IIA) led by its President Tariq Sadiq at the FTO office.

Business community has informed the FTO that the withdrawal of income tax exemption should not apply on the ongoing projects of the newly-established industrial undertakings.

During the meeting, Sukhera informed that minimising human involvement in the tax system through automation will reduce complaints by the taxpayers, which is necessary for rapid economic development.

Taxes play a key role in making growth, sustainable and equitable, especially in the context of the pandemic as more resources are needed to provide relief to the masses, he said.

The FTO said that efforts are underway to resolve complaints, fight tax evasion, discourage under-invoicing as well as over-invoicing, deter misdeclaration and check misuse of various import and export schemes.

These are the issues being faced by the organised sector and are sensitive to the industrialisation of the manufacturing sector of Pakistan.

Talking to the IIA delegation, Sukhera said that many underdeveloped countries are still struggling to collect sufficient revenues to finance their development as a minimum of 15 percent of GDP in taxes is a must to meet the basic needs of the citizens and businesses.

Four thousand cases were resolved in 2020 and the business community received refunds worth eight billion rupees with the help of the FTO, he said, adding that we can take up suo motu cases, send policy recommendations to the FBR, and try to tackle the root causes of problems for the benefit of all the stakeholders.

He said that 80 percent of cases are being resolved through mutual understanding, while implementation of FTO orders by concerned departments is 87 percent.

Tariq Sadiq thanked FTO Sukhera, Secretary FTO Secretariat Dr Arsalan Sobuctageen and Adviser Inland Revenue Mehbooba Razaq, and apprised them of some issues confronting industrialists and gave some suggestions to improve the overall investment situation.

SVP of IIA Omais Khattak, VP Shaukat Hayat, Shaukat Masood, Amir Waheed, Usman Khalid, Atif Ikram, Muhammad Ahmed, and Chairman Coordination Malik Sohail Hussain were also present on the occasion.

They said that a sense of fairness is very important in creating a system businessmen are willing to work resulting in reduced tax disputes.

A fair, equitable, and transparent tax system is in everyone's best interest as it removes uncertainty and promotes trust between taxpayers and tax collectors, they added.

The delegation lauded the role of the FTO in resolving tax-related complaints and hoped that the institution will go a long way in serving the business community.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021