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ISLAMABAD: The suspected benami properties in the federal capital cannot be investigated by the Benami authorities including Benami Zone of Islamabad due to non-submission of the information by the concerned revenue/ development authority.

Sources told Business Recorder that the anti-benami drive was started in August 2019 by the Prime Minister’s Office. The PM office had directed all revenue authorities of provinces to report suspicious benami transactions to benami authorities within one month. The same letter was also directed to chief commissioner ICT and chairman CDA Islamabad.

Revenue authorities of provinces forwarded the information on suspected benami properties to benami authorities and some good cases were also framed. Chief Commissioner ICT submitted the information after much delay; however, the chairman CDA has not submitted the information till date which was required to be submitted within one month from the writing of letter in August 2019. He was also sent reminders several times but in blatant violation of the Prime Minister’s Office’s instructions no such information has been provided despite lapse of 30 months.

The letter issued by the Prime Minister’s Office required the authorities to submit information on prescribed format or if there was no suspected benami property in their jurisdiction then a certificate to that effect that there is no benami property in their jurisdiction should be submitted. But neither the information nor the certificate has been submitted even after lapse of 30 months. Islamabad where prices of land are very high can be a good source of information on suspected benami properties but bureaucratic hurdles have deprived the benami authorities from information, as well as, legal action besides making directive of Prime Minister Office ineffective.

They added that the benami transactions which have been identified by Benami Zones are transactions in agricultural land, residential plots, and houses, bank accounts, luxury vehicles, stocks, and business transactions. Enforcement of the benami law would also lead to taxation on the right person, resolution of inheritance issues, reduced burden of litigation in civil courts and appellate courts and elimination of financial crimes committed through identity theft.

On the administrative side, Pakistan has been divided into three zones, i.e., Islamabad Zone, Lahore Zone, and Karachi Zone. Each zone has its own jurisdiction and headed by a Commissioner who is assisted by inquiry officers. Three zones have already started their work and more than 100 references have been filed for adjudication. Zones are getting information on benami transactions from multiple sources and inquiries are under way.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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