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ISLAMABAD: The real estate sector has apprehended that the Directorate General of Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs) and the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue are planning to inspect the offices of developers/builders and jewelers after budget (2021-22), which would create harassment and panic among the entire sector.

Talking to media here on Monday, Muhammad Ahsan Malik, vice president-(Punjab) Federation of Realtors (FOR) and general secretary of Real Estate Consultants Association (RECA) DHA, Islamabad/ Rawalpindi, stated that the DG DNFBPs has issued several notices to the developers/builders and jewelers for compliance under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.

He said that the government may extend the amnesty scheme for the construction sector beyond June 30, 2021 keeping in view positive response.

The questionnaire for the developers/builders and jewelers are the same and it is difficult to suddenly show compliance with all kinds of laws, conditions and legal requirements.

The notices issued to all the developers and builders across Pakistan included non-compliance of registration with the FBR, delay in submitting Offsite Monitoring Questionnaire and implementation regarding provisions of Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 (AMLA, 2010) read with SRO 924(I)/2020 and 950(I)/2020.

The FBR warning stated: “You (developer/builder) are hereby warned to implement all the legal provisions/obligations as mentioned in AMLA, 2010 read with SRO-924(I)/2020. In future, your compliance will be checked through on-site inspections by our inspection teams against the aforementioned legal provisions at your business premises. Any default may entail imposition of sanctions as mentioned in SRO-950(I)/2020.”

From June 11, the Directorate General of DNFBPs with the workforce of Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue would conduct raids at the offices of the developers/builders and jewelers.

This would send a very negative message at the domestic and international level and halt investment in the real estate sector.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has empowered certain officials of the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue, Regional Tax Offices, and Model Customs Collectorates to monitor and document jewellers, accountants, and developers/builders under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 for assisting the DNFBPs.

The officials of the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue, the RTOs, and the officials of the Customs at Model Customs Collectorates would assist the DG DNFBPs in performing their duties and responsibilities, Malik stated.

He informed that presently, DNFBP who are “Filer” are being harassed by the FBR, and are being served with notices, whereas, no effort for registration of “Non Filer” for registration as the DNFBP is being made by the FBR.

Presently, real estate agents, builders, developers, money changers and jewelers are treated under same FBR SRO-924.

These businesses have no uniformity in their way of working.

It is suggested that separate laws should be made for each category, keeping in view their mode of business.

The legal requirements of the DNFBP should be fulfilled by the transferring/registration authorities/societies, ie, the CDA, the LDA, the KDA, Bahria Town, DHAs, and revenue authorities etc and not by the individual real estate agents, he added.

About the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), he said that we were demanding since long that in Pakistan, there should be a Regulator/Real Estate Council or Real Estate Management Board for the real estate sector.

Recently, the government has passed the RERA Bill-2020 from the National Assembly and the Senate for Capital Territory only, but still it is not implemented.

If it is implemented, then at least 70 to 80 percent issues of the real estate sector will be settled.

There is a dire need of formulation of the RERA and its proper implementation just on lines of other developed countries.

Such step by the government will facilitate in removing various hurdles in the real estate sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021