Announcing its reserved order about the FTO recommendations implementation matter, the court also summoned the FBR chief on the next hearing, due after two weeks.
In its seven-page order, the court recalled the FTO findings and recommendations in the instant matter, and stated, "No worth mentioning progress has been made for the recovery of the loss identified, which is regrettable."
Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Muhammad Shoaib Suddle had come up with 12 recommendations in the instant matter, saying the Customs clearance, cross-border certification and reconciliation procedures needed massive improvement, consolidation and rationalisation. He recommended the cross checks be upgraded, diversified and externalised where the transport system used for Afghan Transit Trade needed to be organised on competitive basis, and that transporters be given the level playing field. Headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a three-judge bench of the apex court, while issuing the order, observed that the performance of the FBR as indicated in the FTO’s report was far from being satisfactory.
"Despite the lapse of almost one-and-a-half year since the compilation of the report by the federal tax ombudsman, no progress, worthy to be mentioned, has been made as regards the recovery of the loss identified, which is regrettable," the order detailed. The court noted it had also not been brought on record as to how far the recommendations made by the FTO in his report had been implemented, despite the fact that a timeframe in this behalf had specifically been mentioned in Section 11(1) of the Ordinance.
"Consequently, let the report be obtained from the federal tax ombudsman as well as the FBR chairman as to the extent of the implementation of the recommendations (of the FTO) by the department, and further such reports shall also identify the modus operandi proposed and required to be undertaken to efficiently and expeditiously effect the recovery of the loss caused to the public exchequer. Such a report should be filed within two weeks," the court ruled in its order.
It also noted that the proceedings of the suo moto case commenced in the year 2010, and during the course of the proceedings, allegations surfaced, which prima facie, constituted ‘mal-administration’, as defined by Section 2(3) of the Establishment of the Office of Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance, 2000.
Consequently a reference in terms of Section 9 of the Ordinance was sent to the FTO on September 30 the same year. Also, 14 specific questions were framed in the order.