FBR for addressing KCAA issues regarding WeBOC

ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken action on issues raised by Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) regarding clearance of imported consignments under the Web Based One-Customs (WeBOC).

FBR has ordered the relevant customs collectorates to resolve the issues pointed out by KCAA, sources revealed. The Board has examined KCAA complaints, which include a number of issues relating to WeBOC i.e. problems in clearance of imported consignments under WeBOC system, delays at banks due to incomplete operations of PD Account Module, closure of Off-Dock Terminal on Saturdays and Sundays etc.

FBR has ordered the field formations to examine the said representations of KCAA and reply may be forwarded to the Board. KCAA also informed FBR about the problems, which were being faced by association’s members in WeBOC system in clearance of GDs for Into-Bond.

FBR revenue collection increases by 35 percent

ISLAMABAD: FBR has so far increased its revenue collection by 35 percent by collecting Rs 239 billion in July-August period of the current fiscal year against a collection of Rs 176 billion in the same period of the last financial year.

FBR has so far collected Rs 116.223 billion during first 28 days of August 2013 as compared to Rs 70.007 billion during the same period last fiscal, registering a growth of 66 percent. FBR collected direct taxes to the tune of Rs 29.631 billion; sales tax Rs 66.856 billion; FED Rs 7.591 billion and customs duty Rs 12.144 billion.

According to provisional figures of revenue collection compiled by FBR, the Board netted Rs 60.376 billion in shape of direct taxes during this period against Rs 43.096 billion in the same period last fiscal, reflecting an increase of 40.1 percent. The collection of Withholding Tax (WHT) at the import stage went up to Rs 13.678 billion during July-August 29, 2013 against Rs 13.722 billion in the corresponding period of last fiscal year.

The revenue collection in shape of sales tax remained Rs 136 billion during July to August 29 period against Rs 97.104 billion in the same period of last fiscal, reflecting an increase of 41 percent.

The collection of the federal excise duty was Rs 13.673 billion during the period under review against Rs 9.606 billion in the same period last fiscal, showing an improvement of 42.3 percent.

Customs duty collection stood at Rs 28.427 billion during July-August 29, 2013 against Rs 27.077 billion in the corresponding period of last fiscal, reflecting an increase of 5 percent.

FBR has paid refunds and rebates to the tune of Rs 17.209 billion during the period under review as compared to Rs 17.136 billion during the same period last fiscal, depicting an increase of 0.4 percent.

Karachi Customs Agents Alliance to win elections with thumping majority: Saifullah Khan

KARACHI: President Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) Saifullah Khan said that his panel would definitely win the upcoming elections of the association with “thumping majority”.

In an exclusive interview with Customs Today, Khan said that Karachi Customs Agents Alliance was winning the elections for four consecutive years since KCAA got freed from clutches of ‘mafia’ in 2008.

President KCAA said that the current office-bearers of the association have worked for the betterment of clearing agents during their tenure.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with clearing agents in difficult times and will continue to resolve their issues related to clearance of goods”, he added.

Commenting on Customs Department, Saifullah Khan said that it is one of the best departments of the government, generating huge revenue for national exchequer.

He further said that high-ups of Customs Department are optimistic and willing to uphold morale of other Customs officials, adding that KCAA will extend full support to them in this regard.

“Rule of law should prevail at Customs Department and best officials be deputed in Audit, Post Clearance Audit (PCA) and Risk Management Cell (RMC)”, Khan added.

To a query, President KCAA said that training sessions of Customs officials below 17-grade including Appraisers and Principal Appraisers should be conducted on regular basis, adding that they should also be trained through workshops and seminars.

Responding to another question, Khan said that Customs Department should improve its working according to Customs Act 1969 and implement the said Act in letter and spirit.

Answering to a question, President KCAA said that the present top brass of Customs Department is committed to improve the performance of the department and increase the revenue generation.

Commenting on the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) scam, Khan said that Pakistan Customs should conduct an impartial and unbiased inquiry in the light of the verdict given by Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP).

“According to the Public Orders 16/2000 and 5/2003, clearing agents are not answerable after handing over the goods to national carriers”, he added.

Replying to a question, President KCAA said that the authorities concerned in Customs should utilize all their resources in order to run WeBoc in effective manner, as clearing agents are still facing difficulties to file Goods Declarations (GDs) through this particular system and the prevailing situation compels them to file GDs manually.

Saifullah Khan further said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Pakistan Customs should take into confidence the agents association and trade bodies before implementing or introducing any new system.

President KCAA Saifullah Khan reiterated that Customs should take revolutionary steps in order to achieve the revenue target. In this regard, he suggested that all the related departments of Customs should cooperate with each other to increase the revenue generation.

Khan hoped that the Karachi Customs Agents Alliance will continue struggle for safeguarding the rights of clearing/forwarding agents after coming into power again.

Message of KCAA President Saifullah Khan regarding CUSTOMS TODAY:

Customs Today is a unique and first English newspaper of its own kind, having good printing quality and following policy of constructive criticism of any individual or department through a very professional way, said Saifullah Khan, President KCAA.

Raising tax revenue

Ever since the new FBR Chairman, Tariq Bajwa, took over, tax revenue has shown a positive growth trend. According to the latest report, there has been a 25 percent increase in tax revenues since the beginning of the fiscal year thanks to a number of new tax collection initiatives taken by the Board. These measures, among others, include a hike in sales tax from 16 to 17 percent. In July, the first month of the fiscal year, the rise in tax collection is estimated at Rs 10 billion. Experts are of the opinion that the new measures have the potential to generate Rs207 billion during the current fiscal year. 

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world and IMF and other international donors want the government to do more to tackle rampant tax evasion, particularly by its wealthy elite, to ensure long-term economic stability. Needless to say, in any drive to improve tax collection, FBR has the central role to play. But year after FBR has failed to deliver. The new Chairman has been trying hard to change the image of FBR by making it a transparent, corruption-free, efficient and effective organization.  While, on the one hand, he has come down hard on corruption at the operational levels, on the other, he has been bending his efforts to mop up more resources through better assessments, plugging of leakages and better supervision and management. In his numerous meetings with senior level officers he has made it clear that he will not tolerate corruption in FBR. At all key positions, he has appointed officers with a clean record.

But all FBR efforts will come to naught if at the policy level major loopholes are not plugged. Agriculture remaining out of the tax net means colossal loss to the national exchequer. It is also necessary to remove dichotomies, discretions and exemptions like SROs which distort the system and render it weak and unworkable. The rich don’t pay their taxes with no questions asked. According to a newspaper report, about 67 percent of our parliamentarians don’t pay taxes.

In order to remove the anomalies, it is important to re-examine the whole taxation machinery in its totality – its philosophy, objectives, operational mode and existing processes – in order to design and implement long-term remedial measures. A few years back, under the Tax Administration Reforms Programme, millions of dollars given by donor agencies were spent to reform the tax system but no improvements were seen. The effort was in vain. The time has come to make the taxation machinery pro-active, effective and people-friendly. Voluntary tax compliance needs to be encouraged but for this to happen an effective system of deterrence will have to be put in place. At present the privileged classes enjoy huge tax free benefits, with the burden mostly on the middle classes – businessmen and the salaried people. This imbalance should be corrected. Taxes due should be collected from all, whether big or small, and the system should be free of any kind of discrimination. Only then can we expect tax revenue to rise to the desired level.

Govt to bring 500,000 taxpayers into net: Bajwa

ISLAMABAD: Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa said that the government would bring 500,000 new taxpayers into the net in order to broaden narrowed tax base over the next five years.

Talking to reporters at FBR’s headquarters, he said that FBR identified some major areas to identify potential taxpayers as they would bring 100,000 non-filers into the net during the current fiscal year.

He said that FBR was also working on placing uniform evaluation system of different products of imports which would help implementing same policy at clearing points in the same manner as there were complaints that in case of placing effective mechanism at one entry point the importers were used to clear their imports from any other point.

When asked about FBR’s powers for having access to bank accounts, the Chairman FBR said that there was no unusual activity reported by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) as he talked to him in start of August.

“FBR has not so far accessed any bank account as it will only be used to unearth black money and in case of those who are non-filers,” he added.

He said that the provision of access to bank accounts would not be utilized for existing taxpayers. FBR, he said, will devise proper rules related to access to bank accounts and only 14 to 15 tax officials including FBR Chairman and FBR Members will have permission to use this facility for identifying non-taxpayers.

In order to achieve challenging target of Rs 2475 billion in 2013-14, the Chairman FBR said that they started sending notices to rich non-filers who possessed assets in terms of holding precious lands in major urban centres & luxury vehicles, and those who are frequent international travelers and spending huge money on utility bills.

“FBR has decided to utilize data of consumption and investment by focusing on getting information from relevant authorities regarding biggest transactions of urban lands, luxury vehicles, international travels and users of utility bills to broaden tax base,” he added.

All those who made transaction of 500 square yards at the price of Rs 50 million will be brought into tax net, he added.

Mr. Bajwa said that it would be a challenge to fetch additional revenues of Rs 535 billion in order to display the desired target set for the current fiscal year which would require a growth of 28 percent.

The Chairman FBR said that there was less than 0.5 percent population discharging its national obligation as compared to developed countries.

To a query regarding tax amnesty scheme, the Chairman FBR said that he was not in favour of any tax amnesty scheme.

There would be zero tolerance on corruption among the FBR officers and Customs officers would also be suspended if found involved in any kind of corruption.

On the issue of sales tax refunds, he said that FBR established a queue and repayments of refunds would be paid on first-come, first-served basis.

He said that the Income Support Levy of 0.5 percent would be utilized for safety net programmes such as Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). In order to discharge responsibility of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), he said that affluent people should voluntarily come forward to discharge their duty towards poor segment of the society.

Seema Majid appointed as DG WHT in FBR

ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has appointed Seema Majid (Inland Revenue Service/BS-20) as new Director General Withholding Taxes FBR Islamabad.

According to a notification, Sajjad Haider Afzal Cheema (Inland Revenue Service/BS-21) has been posted as Director General, Directorate General of Internal Audit (Inland Revenue), Islamabad. Seema Majid has been transferred from Commissioner Inland Revenue (WHT), Regional Tax office, Islamabad to Director General (OPS) (WHT)), Federal Board of Revenue (HQs), Islamabad.

Laws on halal products’ certification being framed: Sajid Yousafani

LAHORE: Secretary Livestock and Dairy Development Sajid Yousafani said that laws on halal products’ certification are being framed and would be finalized soon.

The Secretary was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar presented the Address of Welcome. LCCI Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad, former President Mian Muhammad Ashraf, former Vice President Saeeda Nazar, Executive Committee members Mudassor Masood Chaudhry, Nasir Saeed, Malik Muhammad Akram and Main Zahid Javaid Ahmad also spoke on the occasion.

Sajid Yousafani said that draft laws on halal product certification had already been prepared by Halal Development Agency working under Justice Khalilur Rehman and would take another 20 to 30 days to get final shape.

On the issue of low milk productivity, the Secretary said that although the country is the fourth largest milk producer in the world with fourth largest population of cattle-heads, the milk production remained the lowest as compared with the developed countries including the US and Australia.

Ambassador of Netherlands visits LSE

LAHORE: The Ambassador of Netherlands to Pakistan, Mr. Marcel de Vink visited the Lahore Stock Exchange and met with the management & brokers of the exchange and discussed various matters of mutual interest.

Mr. Aftab Ahmad Chaudhary along with his staff briefed him about the structure and performance of the Capital Market of Pakistan. Mr. Aftab said that various initiatives to be taken by the Exchange in future to promote business opportunities & investments in various sectors of Pakistan. He informed the visiting dignitary that there are many opportunities not only at large infrastructural level but also at small & medium scale and the Exchange is fully equipped to facilitate these investments.

The Ambassador expressed excitement at historic outstanding performance of Pakistan’s equity. He said that the Netherlands is aware of the economic opportunities and possibilities being offered by Pakistan and is in fact very interested that the economic relationship between the two countries changed “from aid to trade” and promised his sincere efforts for showcasing Pakistan as a viable investment opportunity to his government and citizens.

Thailand seizes 100kg of ivory from Africa

BANGKOK: Thai customs said they had arrested two Vietnamese air passengers after finding more than 100kg of ivory in their luggage on a flight from Angola.

The haul, which included whole tusks, ivory beads and shaped cubes which could be used for carving, was worth around $500,000, customs.

It was found in luggage belonging to a Vietnamese man and woman who had arrived in Bangkok on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from the Angolan capital Luanda, a customs statement said.

The pair was due to fly on to neighbouring Cambodia, but failed to report to the gate for their connecting journey after the discovery was made. “They were later detained in the airport and then charged with smuggling banned items,” the statement said.

Thailand is a known transit point for ivory, much of it destined for rich buyers in China or Vietnam where it is used in traditional medicine or as ornaments. Africa has seen a sharp rise in the illegal trade in wildlife products such as ivory and rhino horn.

Up to 30,000 African elephants were poached for their ivory last year and a record 668 South African rhinos were killed for their horns, according to conservationists.

Thailand has come under the spotlight in recent months over its role in the ivory trade. Campaigners have urged the kingdom to end its legal domestic tusk trade, which they say enables criminals to launder illegal African ivory in the country.

Kyrgyz, Azerbaijani customs services to expand ties

The customs services of Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan vow to expand and strengthen cooperation. This became clear during a meeting between the head of Kyrgyzstan’s Customs Service Adamkul Junusov and Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hidayat Orujov.

The parties mentioned their active multilateral cooperation, which is carried out under the CIS Council of heads of customs services, World Customs Organization – via meetings of the heads of customs administrations of the WTO’s European department, the Customs Service Heads of the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Customs Cooperation Committee with financial support from the ABD (Customs Value Correction).

Bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan’s Customs Service is based on an agreement between the customs services of Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan titled “On cooperation and mutual assistance in customs issues” signed on December 3, 2004 in Baku.