FBR’s Member Admin holds the system together and keeps it going

ISLAMABAD: The key role of the Administration Wing of FBR is overall administration of the Board, its attached departments and field formations, including transfers and postings, appraisals, processing and monitoring of all development projects. The entire budget of FBR is also managed and supervised by the wing.

This was stated by Shahid Hussain Jatoi, Member Administration in Federal Board of Revenue in an exclusive interview with Customs Today recently. He said that like any other organization FBR has an effective Administration Wing which is performing its duties with great responsibility. He said that the Administration Wing has launched another effective system namely HRIS, the first of its kind by any organization in Pakistan. Complete data and record of all the officers and their performance is stored and maintained through this system. This method provides all the required information of each officer with a single click.

He said that Admin Wing remains watchful to ensure that transfers and postings are decided on merit and sees that no ambiguity is left in this regard. Admin Wing makes transfers and postings up to 19 grade officers and the rest are made by the Central Selection Board. Answering a question he said it is true that the wing has to face pressures from different circles, including politicians, regarding transfers and postings but under the supervision of Tariq Bajwa, Chairman FBR, all the work is carried out absolutely on merit. Under the new set-up, the Administration wing is working in a congenial atmosphere and exercising its free will in the selection of officers at important places.

Replying to a question, he said that infrastructure maintenance of FBR buildings, on rent or owned, is also a basic function of our department.” We deal with maintenance and construction of buildings, offices and even residences of officers.”

Similarly, other assignments like holding training sessions for officers, supervising their promotions, helping in career planning, managing their leaves, taking disciplinary actions against them and above all hiring and firing of officers are all in the line of duty of the Administration wing

In addition, the department also deals with seniority cases, qualification issues, performance and evaluation reports and overall professional reputation. In other words, career profile mechanism is the responsibility of the department.

Replying to another question, Mr Jatoi said that if complaints against FBR officers are anonymous and of general nature and allegations do not contain any evidence, then there would hardly any justification for taking action. However, complaints with specific details and evidences are first verified through various means and then a preliminary report is prepared to initiate disciplinary action against the officers.

Apart from Admin Wing, he said other wings in FBR and government agencies simultaneously deal with the investigation of complaints about corruption and corrupt practices.

He added that the culture of filing genuine complaints does not exist in our country due to various reasons like fear of retribution, lack of trust and faith in the system and lack of knowledge of the legal rights of traders under various laws.

He said that there is a proper mechanism established for complaints which is simple and quick in nature. “If we find any complaint in writing and there is nobody to own the complaint, we cannot work on it. We can only act upon specific details and material evidence. Once we find out any evidence, we initiate proceedings in this regard.” At present some complaints and fact finding inquiries are pending and there are other cases in which charge sheets have been prepared and issued.

 

 

 

 

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Tokyo, Islamabad ties cordial: Ishaq Dar

ISLAMABAD: Minoru Kiuchi, Japanese Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs called on Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Welcoming the Japanese vice minister, Senator Ishaq Dar termed the relationship between the two countries as close and cordial. He thanked Japan for extending assistance in time of need and support for development projects in Pakistan.

Senator Ishaq also thanked Japan for supporting the recently concluded IMF programme with Pakistan. Dar said the depth of relationship between the two countries is not reflected in the current volume of trade which stands at $579 million. He stressed the need to explore avenues to further enhance bilateral trade and economic relations between Islamabad and Tokyo.

Japanese Vice Minister Minoru Kiuchi said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attaches great importance to the region especially Pakistan. Japan, he said views the region as a potential emerging economic region which can contribute towards the world economy.

The vice minister said that since the establishment of the diplomatic relations in 1952, both the countries have enjoyed good relations. Japan he said recognizes that the political and economic stability of Pakistan is significant for the prosperity of this region. He further said that the investors in Japan have high expectations from the present government in Pakistan and lauded the consolidation of democracy in the country.

Minoru Kiuchi, Japanese Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs reciprocated the views of Senator Ishaq Dar that there was an ample room to expand and strengthen economic relations between the two countries.

The senator said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a vision to transform the economy of Pakistan and make it one of dynamic emerging economies of the world. In this connection he alluded to the manifesto of PML-N which clearly lays down a roadmap and a strategy to being out the country from its present economic problems and put it on a path of sustainable growth.

The prime minister, Dar said has been focusing to overcome the challenges faced in the energy sector as well as improvement in law and order in the country. In this connection he informed the Japanese vice minister that an All Parties Conference had unanimously come out with a resolve to address the law and order situation in the country.

Dilating on the economic agenda of the present government, Senator Ishaq Dar said that our manifesto stipulates enhancing economic relations with other countries based on the principle of “trade not aid”. The meeting was also attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

Customs agents call off countrywide strike after successful talks

KARACHI: Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) and All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) on Wednesday called off their countrywide strike after successful talks with Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) West Muhammad Saleem who assured them to redress their issues as soon as possible.

Sources informed Customs Today that a delegation of Customs agents comprising President KCAA Saifullah Khan, General Secretary Yahya Muhammad, Chairman APCAA Syed Shams Burney, Senior Vice President APCAA Arshad Jamal, Zahid Qazi, Ifthiqar Shaikh and others met with the Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) West Muhammad Saleem at his office.

Sources further told that an Assistant Collector Mukhtiar Shaikh and a principal appraiser acted as a bridge between Customs Department and Customs agents in order to hold discussions.

During the meeting, the Customs officials agreed upon to conduct re-hearing of the show-cause notices issued against Customs Agents in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) scam. He also assured that no new ONO would be issued against them. The Customs officials also assured the Customs agents to constitute a committee for redressal of their grievances regarding WeBOC.

FTO directs tax officials not to intervene

LAHORE: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed all the tax officials not to entertain tax-related issues which have already been addressed by the FTO under the Federal Ombudsmen Institutional Reforms Act (FOIRA) 2013.

In this regard, the FTO registrar has issued written instructions to the FBR chairman and asked him to make sure that the legal position is communicated to all the employees including those performing appellate functions, tribunals, courts or authorities administering/adjudicating relevant legislation under the FTO Ordinance, 2001.

A local tax lawyer, explaining the provisions of the FOIRA-2013, said that the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue (ATIR) and Commissioner Inland Revenue Appeals (CIR-A) could not exercise jurisdiction to address an issue pending with FTO under complaint or review under the FOIRA. He added that the act would bring comprehensive reforms in the institution of an ombudsman and officials non-compliant with orders might be sent to jail for up to six months.

The lawyer further explained that Section 18 of FOIRA shall reduce unnecessary litigation at dual/multi-forums and authorities in normal appeal hierarchy shall also be restrained from creating parallel litigation.

According to Section 18, no court or authority shall have jurisdiction to entertain a matter which falls within the jurisdiction of an ombudsman, nor should any court or authority assume jurisdiction in respect of any matter pending with or decided by an ombudsman. Further, under Section 24 the provisions of FOIRA shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force.

The FOIRA suggests various judicial powers to Federal Ombudsmen of Pakistan including strict action for non-filing of comments by the agency within time given by Ombudsman and disciplinary action, temporary injunction, power of Civil Court to grant stay/temporary injunction and implementation of orders/recommendations by exercising powers of Civil Judge to execute decree against a judgement debtor including arrest and attachment of salary etc, limitation to file Review and Representation and its disposal within specified time.

The office of the federal ombudsman was established in 1983. At present, five ombudsmen are functioning at the federal level in the country. The office is a core institution where the grievances of people are addressed speedily and free of charge.

FBR chief directs Lahore RTO officers to achieve target

LAHORE: Tariq Bajwa, Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), has ordered the Regional Tax Office (RTO) Lahore officers to try their best to meet the budgetary target.

He issued these directives while chairing a meeting of the Chief Commissioners of RTO-I, RTO-2, Large Tax Payer Unit (LTU) and other high officers. The meeting discussed changes made in this fiscal year’s budget by the government, and how to generate revenue through these changes.

Member Inland Revenue (IR-Operations) Muhammad Ashraf, RTO-I Chief Commissioner Shafqat Mahmood, LTU Lahore Chief Mustafa Ashraf and RTO-II Chief Dr Muhammad Irshad also participated in the meeting.

FBR endeavors to curb menace of corruption on PM directives

KARACHI: Curbing the menace of corruption is on top of the agenda of the present government. Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif recently issued directives to Revenue Division and Federal Board of Revenue to conduct proper screening and strict scrutiny to purge the lines of corrupt and inefficient elements in their ranks. After these firm directives, Revenue Division and FBR gave clear directions to the officers and staff working under their administrative control to perform their assigned duties professionally. FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa also stressed this point last week in a press briefing saying that there would be zero tolerance on corruption among FBR officers, adding that the Board took decision to suspend two officers of Customs in Karachi.

Similarly, Member Customs also held a number of meetings in Islamabad and Karachi with chief collectors, collectors, additional collectors, deputy collectors and assistant collectors, and called for making an effective strategy to eradicate corruption from the department and enhance efficiency of the officials.

After these recent developments, Customs Department is strictly following these directives and has started fight against corruption to unearth old frauds and prevent potential frauds in future.

According to details, Customs Intelligence detained 3 containers on 16 August (Friday) near Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT). After initial investigation, it found that the containers were cleared without examination by mis-declaration of GDs (Goods Declarations) mentioned with different items including artificial ornaments, toilet soaps, fairness creams, towels, cosmetics, hosiery products & other items and booked on the name of A to Z company and H A Karim International.

Sources revealed that a self-proclaimed clearing agent Mian Tahir played a vital role in order to clear these consignments. In the meantime, R & D Department of Customs opened 15 recovery cases from July to August against these importers having GD Nos: 7724, 7720, 7712, 7715, 7718, 9141, 9153, 9136, 9130, 9150, 9142, 9147, 9155, 9159 and 9163.

Sources in Customs House, Karachi told our correspondent that Mian Tahir had close links with Assistant Collector Aftab Ahmed and cleared around 43 GDs in just two months i.e. (July and August) by using Aftab’s WeBOC ID and password.

Unlike before, now Customs Department has started taking notice against its own ‘corrupt’ officials. When contacted Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Appraisement said that it has issued an order of “off-duty” against its own Assistant Collector Aftab Ahmed and an inquiry has been initiated against Appraisers Jam Akram and Rasheed Khan.

Member Customs Nisar Muhammad Khan seems very optimistic about the performance of FBR and Customs Department and is highly convinced that FBR is now heading towards right direction under the competent and proficient leadership of its chairman Tariq Bajwa.

Mr Nisar, while talking to Customs Today about the case of tax evasion by the importers, said that the case would be investigated as per law. Expressing his complete satisfaction, he said that now all the departments are working efficiently. Any act against the rules and regulations would not be tolerated, he added.

Commenting on the above-mentioned case of tax evasion, DG Investigation & Intelligence Riaz Khan told Customs Today that there is no room for corrupt elements. Everybody is equal before law and no one is above the law. We are working for betterment of Pakistan. Our department is also working in that direction, he added.

When contacted the spokesperson of Customs Intelligence Department confirmed that in the wake of credible information, the regional office at Karachi intercepted and seized 3×40 containers of miscellaneous items imported by H.A Karim International and A to Z company. The consignments were cleared through yellow channel without examination. Assessment Officer initially marked that multiple items were declared without proper specification, description, size, material, origin, brand, packing, quality and net weight etc,.

He said that the examination request was rejected by Assistant Collector (Assessment) Aftab Ahmed Khan and GDs were completed and assigned to gate out while the same containers were intercepted and detained by the Directorate. He also confirmed lodging of FIR against the culprit.

Director Customs Intelligence & Investigation Manzoor Hussain Memon is striving hard and taking a number of initiatives to curb the menace of corruption to reduce the tax evasion and increase the revenue for the exchequer.

When contacted to get details about the above-mentioned case, Manzoor Hussain Memon confirmed that the Customs Intelligence has written a letter to Federal Board of Revenue in order to get permission to involve the Assistant Collector in the ongoing investigation.

“The Intelligence officers are carrying out investigation into the matter without any pressure, however; phone calls of some influentials are being received,” the Director added.

Giving details about the recent operation of the Directorate of Customs Intelligence & Investigation, Additional Director Customs I&I, Mumtaz Khoso informed Customs Today that the Customs Intelligence and Investigation has detained three containers of importers Sheikh Khurram Shahzad (owner A to Z) and Azfar Javed (owner H A Karim International).

Khoso confirmed that among the detained containers, two belonged to A to Z company and third H A Karim International.

“During joint investigation, it was revealed that 33 different items were present in first container, 40 in the second container and 52 different items found in third container. However; the Goods Declarations (GDs) displayed 18 different items in first container, 16 in second and 20 in third container,” Additional Director Customs I&I disclosed.

Providing the details of complete breakup of the duty obtained and tax evaded, the Additional Director informed that on first container duty of Rs 4.63 lakh was submitted instead of Rs 34 lakh, on second container the tax levy of Rs 4.34 lakh was submitted instead of Rs 27 lakh and on third container, the duty of Rs 4.67 lakh was submitted instead of Rs 35 lakh.

He further informed that 7 other containers of these two importers are under examination by the Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) East.

On just three containers, these importers have evaded Rs 82 lakh and seven more containers are detained for investigation, if they are proved to have evaded duty on these 7 containers too then it is possible they had been evading duty on their imported goods for several years which could open doors for further investigation into the case and take Customs Department to unearth the scam.

“We have registered 2 FIRs against the accused namely Khurram Shaikh and Azfar Javed involved in the case for evading huge tax levy, adding that these importers belonged to Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” he added.

“Valuation ruling has also been violated in such cases and the Customs Intelligence is investigating the matter”, he added.

Khoso further said that the Customs Intelligence has already completed seizer procedure in the matter.

“We have two main priorities in the said case as per the directives of high-ups that is to recover the evaded tax levy and arrest the culprits involved in it”, Additional Director Customs I&I revealed.

“We have clear directives from the top brass of FBR and Customs Department to eliminate the corrupt practice”, he asserted.

He further informed that the investigation is going on smoothly and it is hoped that the procedure would be completed within 30 days.

“We have also clear directives in order to eradicate such mafia, causing huge losses to national exchequer”, he maintained.

When contacted Assistant Collector Aftab Ahmed, who is involved in the case, said that he is “off-duty” now and could not comment over the said matter.

One of the office-bearers of Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) said that Mian Tahir is not a listed clearing agent and even not enrolled with Association.

“Mian Tahir did not visit the office of KCAA ever in his career and persons like him by disguising them as clearing agents are tarnishing the image of clearing agents as well as the Association”, he added.

Amir Sheikh (owner of A to Z Hosiery) and ‘relative’ of accused Khurram Sheikh (owner of A to Z company) told Customs Today that he has nothing to do with these frauds.

When contacted, Khurram Sheikh (owner of A to Z company) and main accused in the case said that detaining of their containers seems to be a tactic to pressurize them, he added.

Customs Today team at Karachi and Islamabad chased this investigative story at length to dig into details of what steps FBR and Customs high-ups are taking to avoid hefty losses to the exchequer through frauds in lieu of the directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FBR Board-in-Council approves audit plan

ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Friday approved audit plan for income tax and sales tax under which thousands of taxpayers will be selected through random balloting by next week.

“FBR’s Board-in-Council has approved an audit plan for selecting 5 percent taxpayers’ through random balloting,” Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa confirmed on Friday.

Instead of parameters-based audit, FBR took decision to hold audit on the basis of random balloting. The parameters-based audit was always challenged into different courts on different grounds so the FBR took conscious decision to avoid plunging into any legal battle.

Earlier, the Board-in-Council of FBR considered audit plan for selecting thousands of cases of Income Tax and Sales Tax for audit purposes.

“The audit is meant to create deterrence,” said one member of FBR and added that it would not give jumpstart to revenue collection. “We want to complete assessments till March 2014 so that we can materialize revenues in the current fiscal year,” added the official.

FBR had been facing difficulties to enforce audit plan in an effective manner from last several years because it was challenged into different courts on the basis of certain lacunas in the plan.

FBR has been facing a difficult task for achieving highly challenging tax collection target of Rs 2,475 billion in the current fiscal year compared to a collection of Rs 1936 billion in the last financial year. FBR will have to achieve a growth of over 28 percent in the ongoing fiscal for displaying its desired target.

FBR has already started sending notices to potential non-filers in a bid to broaden narrowed tax base. The government has made commitment with the IMF that the tax-to-GDP ratio will be increased by 5 percent in next five year tenure of PML (N) government.

“The bank access will be used carefully to broaden tax base,” said the official and added that the land transaction record of big giants was in the process of collection from all available avenues to find out new taxpayers.

FBR has planned to send 100,000 notices in the current fiscal year and so far these notices have been sent to around 30,000 people all over the country.

FBR had so far collected Rs 290.5 billion in first two months and few days of September 2013, registering a growth of just 17 percent compared to the same period of the last financial year.

This challenging task will become harder in the second and third quarter of the current financial year as FBR had performed well during the same period last year.

“In order to ensure effectiveness of the audit plan, FBR also decided to exclude certain areas from audit exercise such as salaried class, all those sectors where final tax liability is charged as audit of these sectors would not impact revenue side positively. So we decided to drop these sectors consciously in order to avoid wastage of time,” said the sources.

To track down progress on issued audit notices, FBR has already placed Tax Audit Management System (TAMS), enabling tax authorities to avoid misuse of any audit notice.