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Federal Tax Ombudsman claims implementation of more than 80 percent decisions

PESHAWAR (March 02 2003) : The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), Justice Saleem Akhtar has claimed that 80 percent decisions of the institution have been implemented in letter and spirit.

However, he said that in some cases status quo was granted on the intervention of the President of Pakistan.

Similarly, Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has also filed review petitions.

He was addressing a meeting of the Executive Committee Members of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here at Sarhad Chamber on Saturday.

President of SCCI, Ghulam Sarwar Khan Mohmand, presided while former president of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) and Senator-elect Ilyas Ahmad Bilour was also present.

Justice Saleem Akhtar said that the institution of FTO had been constituted for the promotion of tax culture and removal of dissatisfaction regarding the role of tax collection machinery among the tax payers.

He said that within two years, his office had received 3325 complaints, of which 3,070 had been disposes of, 1,091 cases of refund were sent back to Central Board of Revenue (CBR) for repayment, and 55 cases of institutional reforms were also brought to his office in which he stressed for reforms.

The FTO said that on the recommendations of FTO office 75 CBR officials had been punished. “Majority of them have been transferred; some were issued notices, and one has been sacked,” the FTO informed the businessmen.

FLAWS IN SYSTEM: He said that inconsistent policies are the main cause of flaws in tax system, and added that due to such situation the FTO office was receiving a lot of complaints regarding harassment of tax payers by tax officials.

He said that tax officials in violation of Section 65 of the Tax Ombudsman Ordinance did not hesitate from re-opening of the re-assessment cases, adding that all such notices had been declared suspended.

Giving details of the highhandedness of the tax collecting machinery, Saleem Akhtar said that in an open case the officials deliberately withheld the account book and when the case was referred to him he recommended action against the officials responsible.

The tax ombudsman said that the jurisdiction of FTO is limited to federal taxes like income tax, sales tax, and excise duties and particularly maladministration in tax collection.

He said that if CBR officials are involved in maladministration and are violating rules, regulations and have adopted discriminatory attitude towards tax payers, such acts are illegal, unjust and are considered as corruption.

He urged the businessmen that in any such situation they

should bring to the notice of his office.

He assured them that his office entertains all complaints and directs CBR for reply within two weeks and the whole proceedings do not take more time than two months.

He agreed with the suggestions of the members of Sarhad Chamber to strengthen the institution.

However, he said, majority of the cases remained in litigation and the FTO can not interfere in other courts.

He said that FTO is not a law making body and only interprets laws to restrict maladministration and did not hesitate from using adjudication.

He said that Supreme Court of Pakistan in its decision has also said that CBR is legally bound to respect the decisions of this court.

“For the implementation of the ruling of the tribunal a special Implementation Cell has been constituted and if CBR refuses to send reply of the summon the FTO takes notice of the defiance and forces official to respect the rule of law,” the FTO said, adding that like a judge of Supreme Court, FTO also sends a notice of contempt of court.

He said that any amendment in the tax laws would be brought in the lights of the suggestions of tax payers, adding that for the resolution of all grievances of tax payers a meeting of all stakeholders would be convened soon to resolve them with the active co-operation of business community.

He said that the purpose behind the establishment of FTO office was to give relief to tax payers, and added that judicious collection and its spending would encourage people to deposit their taxes voluntarily.

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