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RAWALPINDI: “The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has introduced a number of unnecessary amendments in the Finance Supplementary Act, 2022, aimed at increasing harassment rather than documentation.”

This was the crux of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Tax Affairs held at the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on Wednesday.

In his presentation, the committee Chairman, Faraz Fazal, answered the questions of the participants regarding ID card requirement, the POS system, and online and digital payments.

He requested the FBR that the mandatory condition of digital means of payment for companies be allowed simultaneously with other conventional modes of payments for one-year period.

The Finance (Supplementary) Act, 2022 has further defined that ‘digital’ means electronic or digital payments, as defined by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Fazal stated that apparently, the confusion of the business community was removed by incorporating definition of the “digital means” of the SBP.

The definition has been made part of the law.

The definition of the digital means has been incorporated in the Finance Supplementary Act, 2022.

The tax expert apprehended that the government has incorporated such a provision where 90 percent of the corporate sector would be penalised.

While observing that the manual cheque system should operate parallel with the digital mode, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Talha Mahmood, rejected the provision of digital payment.

The meeting expressed grave concern over the Finance Supplementary Act, 2022 and the ‘mini-budget’.

Chamber President Nadeem Rauf said that for the first time, it has been seen that so many amendments have been made in the supplementary bill. Usually such amendments are made in the finance bill. He said that the business community is not against documenting the economy.

A number of unnecessary amendments have been made in the Supplementary Bill aimed at increasing harassment rather than documentation.

The existing taxpayers are overburdened, he added.

Withdrawal of exemptions and imposition of 17 percent sales tax will increase people’s miseries and cause the economy to shrink and stagnate, he said.

The meeting was chaired by President Nadeem Rauf and Chairman Committee Faraz Fazal.

Group Leader Sohail Altaf, Vice President Talat Awan, Former Presidents Kashif Shabbir, Asad Mashhadi, Mian Humayun, Executive Members and Committee Members were also present on the occasion.

Nadeem Rauf said that there are serious concerns over digital payment of Rs2.5 lakhs to the business community as at present, the banks do not have the capacity to adopt digital payment methods. Keeping ground realities, this is neither applicable nor implementable, he said.

Sales tax has been increased to 17 percent for food items, machinery, solar, poultry, bakery items, steel, gold and silver, hospitals, medicines, milk, eggs on which there was tax exemption or minimum tax. The common man and the businessman are already suffering with inflation. Inflation has now jumped to double digits. This would cause the economy to shrink and stagnate, he cautioned.

He said that unfortunately, budgeting and policy making is done without consulting stakeholders. In the health sector, taxes have also been levied on medical devices, raw materials used in medicines, which will make treatment more expensive. In the field of education, the imposition of sales tax on books, pencils and stationery will also make education more expensive.

Sales tax has also been imposed on all types of machinery. This will increase business costs and reduce investment, reduce employment opportunities and further reduce the economy.

Group leader Sohail Altaf said that the Rawalpindi Chamber would not remain silent. The concerns on the supplementary finance bill will be raised at every forum to bring relief to the business community and the public.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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