Incumbent premier still on NAB radar over RPPs

ISLAMABAD – An official spokesman on Saturday reiterated the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman’s earlier statement that they could send a questionnaire to if need be the department could send a questionnaire to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf for further queries in the RPPs case, if and whenever required.NAB PRO Hafiz Mohammad Irfan was responding to a question about the latest developments in the RPPs case and whether the department would summon the incumbent premier, who is accused in the case, for further probe at a press conference.He further said Raja had made it clear after assuming the office of prime minister that he would join the investigation, like he did in the past - the bureau has already questioned him twice in the case - if the NAB officials would summon him in connection with the RPPs probe.Meanwhile, a proactive move on part of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari helped prevent the alleged move by some five cellular phone service providers to evade around Rs 47 billion in tax and gave a stern caution to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chief not to show any leniency to any of these companies.Giving details of the whole episode, NAB PRO Hafiz Mohammad Irfan in a press conference on Saturday informed media that soon after getting information, Bokhari wasted no time and summoned the FBR chairman at the NAB Headquarters. After getting complete details of the affair, he directed him not to show any leniency to any of these cell companies, which were trying to get some sort of tax waiver from the FBR.In the meantime, the NAB chairman constituted a fact-finding committee comprising DG Operations, Director Special Operations and a senior banking officer of NAB to probe into the matter.He further said on July 4, the matter came into the notice of Bokhari, who wasted no time in taking action and directed the FBR chairman to appear and explain the whole matter about the defaulted amount and the developments taking place in this regard.On special directives, a high-level team comprising Member Inland Revenue, Member Admin and Chief Sales Tax appeared before the inquiry team of NAB and apprised on the issue of giving waiver to telecom companies. Finding their explanation unsatisfactory, they were restrained to sign waiver notification.It was reported to the NAB authorities that the staff concerned was trying to issue subject waiver in spite of preventive instruction from the NAB, after which Bokhari ordered for an enforcement to find out why tax evasion continued for the last four years.He stressed that the FBR chairman FBR should himself explain the point of view of the department on the issue.The FBR chairman immediately flew from Karachi to Islamabad and rushed to the NAB headquarters and appeared before the fact-finding committee. During the discussion, the NAB officials questioned him on grounds for considering a tax waiver to cellular companies amounting to more than Rs 40 billion (Rs 26 billion principal amount, default surcharge and penalty) based on interconnect charges. Initially, the FBR chairman FBR was thinking otherwise, but once he was confronted with evidence and relevant documents, he accepted the NAB position and agreed on a four-point agenda.The cellular companies were evading tax since 2007 and the FBR took notice of the issue only after its auditors found the practice three years later in 2010. When the FBR asked to pay tax, the companies went for case to a Commissioner Inland Revenue (CIR) and later went to Appellant Tribunal Inland Revenue (ATIR). The tribunal gave decision in favour of interconnect charges. Then, they applied to the Chief Commissioner Large Tax Unit to waive last five years’ tax as it did not happen inadvertently.

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