By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Friday stressed the need for an effective taxation system in the country to ensure ease of doing business and encourage people to join the tax-net.
Addressing at the public awareness seminar on Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president said tax evasion could prove detrimental for economies and hindered the overall national progress.
On the special interest of President Alvi to apprise masses from the platform of FTO for providing speedy justice on tax-related grievances, the seminar gathered representatives from Federal Board of Revenue, chambers of commerce and relevant tax functionaries.
The president said FTO, in response to public grievances, put a check on the acts and decisions of the FBR, thus presenting a balance of authority and accountability between the two institutions.
“Pakistan needs an institutionalized system where the authority could be held accountable in the interest of common man,” he said. Emphasizing the need for a simplified and tax-friendly environment to encourage the people fulfill their national obligation, the president said lack of trust over tax-collecting bodies and their corruption were the main factors responsible for tax evasion.
He recalled of meeting over 100 delegations of traders and businessmen in last few years, who showed readiness to pay taxes but expressed apprehensions about the present tax system. He called for fixing the loopholes in tax system by putting in place effective checks with use of tools of technology and digitalization to ensure transparency.
However, he said, such system of check and balance must not create delays to the inconvenience of tax payers.
The president said an effective tax system would help eliminate corruption from the society, which was otherwise gravely affecting the poor strata of society. President Alvi expressed confidence that the seminar would raise awareness about the important role played by FTO which gave decisions against the maladministration of tax authorities with 45 days.
He appreciated the role of FTO that provided speedy and free-of-cost justice to the aggrieved parties against administrative injustices. Federal Tax Ombudsman Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera said FTO was working efficiently with its mandate to investigate, redress and rectify maladministration of tax bodies and issue necessary recommendations.
He proposed that to avoid regressive taxation, reforms were necessary with an aim to impose the rate of taxation in accordance with the different income groups, instead of the uniform taxes on poor and rich.
Secretary Tax Adviser Dr. Arsalan Sabuktagin in a presentation on FTO said formed in 2002, the statutory office had been providing speedy and cost-free redressal of any person’s grievances arising out of corruption or maladministration of tax functionaries of the Federal Board of Revenue. He said the complaint filed was registered with a number followed by an investigation by the Adviser and the departmental response with a decision to be taken within 45-90 days. To promote good governance, he said, several own motion cases were initiated by FTO in areas of bogus registrations, fake invoices, smuggled vehicles, illegal export of gold, and electronic auction.