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ISLAMABAD: The federal Cabinet has approved Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue (Appointments, Terms and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2024, aimed at ensuring transparent process for the appointment of members of the Tribunal to ensure the speedy disposal of tax-related cases, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

At a recent meeting, Ministry of Law and Justice tabled the summary with the permission of the Prime Minister as Chairman of federal Cabinet.

The Cabinet was informed that a Legal Reforms Committee had been constituted by the prime minister to make the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal more efficient, functional and transparent.

Federal cabinet approves rules to expedite disposal of pending tax cases

On the recommendations of the Committee, certain amendments were introduced to Section 130 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 through the Tax Laws (Amendment) Act, 2024 (V of 2024).

In this context, the ministry apprised that sub-section 2 of Section 130 of Act provides that the Appellate Tribunal shall consist of members who shall be appointed by the federal government in such numbers, in accordance with such procedure and on such terms and conditions as the federal government may prescribe by rules, which shall be made and take effect notwithstanding anything contained in Section 237 of this Ordinance or the Federal Public Service Commission Ordinance, 1977 (XLV of 1977) or any other law or rules, for the time being in force.

The ministry further announced that in line with the Tax Law (Amendment) Act, 2024 (V of 2024), the draft rules, namely the “Appellate Inland Revenue (Appointments, Terms and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2024,” had been prepared for the appointment of members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

The ministry stated that the proposed rules were prepared in consultation with the Attorney General of Pakistan and the chairman, Federal Board of Revenue to provide a transparent process for the appointment of members of the Tribunal to ensure the speedy disposal of tax-related cases.

During the ensuing discussion, the Cabinet directed that all appointments on the Tribunal should be based on merit through a competitive selection process to be conducted by an institute/university of national repute. It was further noted that the process shall be made transparent and after initial screening, a Selection Committee shall be appointed with the approval of the Cabinet to assess the candidates. After brief discussion, the Cabinet approved the summary of Law Ministry.

The Ministry of Law also presented another summary titled amendments in the Investment Ombudsman (Appointment, Terms and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2023. It was noted that the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act, 2022, (XXXV of 2022) inter alia provides for attracting, encouraging and protecting large scale foreign investments into Pakistan and to ensure sustainable economic activity and growth. Section 12 of the said Act provides that the Federal Government shall appoint an Investment Ombudsman for a term of three years on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by rules, and that the Investment Ombudsman shall have at least fifteen years of experience in the field of international trade, foreign investment and related matters.

The Ministry of Law and Justice stated that the Investment Ombudsman, on appointment, shall be responsible to entertain applications of investors against the federal government, any federal government entity or any provincial government, regarding violation of any provision of the said Act or non-implementation of protected benefits by such government or entity.

The ministry also apprised that the Investment Ombudsman (Appointment Terms and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2023 were in the field. The said rules prescribed qualification etc., of the Investment Ombudsman. In order to select the best and most suitable candidate, it was important to encourage a healthy competition and, therefore, proposed an amendment in rule 3(1)(e) of the Rules to change the academic qualification so as to find the best candidate from a larger pool.

After explaining reasons, the ministry prepared a draft SRO, proposing amendments in the Investment Ombudsman (Appointment, Terms and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2023, to be prescribed by the federal government in terms of Section 15 of the Act. The Cabinet approved the proposal.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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