LAHORE

Under the proposed Benami Account Prohibition Law, the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency could take action against traders, which indicates that Federal Board of Revenue is a futile department.

“Now NAB and FIA will do the task of FBR to collect revenue and we have objection on it. The Prime Minister and Punjab CM had hinted at keeping a check on NAB and how it can pursue cases of traders. At first, we need such a NAB which could win the confidence of all political parties in the parliament. The NAB should prove its credibility, first, by holding judges, generals, journalists and politicians accountable then it should take action against traders for tax evasion,” stated All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran general secretary Naeem Mir at a press conference at APAT Liberty Market office on Monday. He urged the government to take traders on board to table Benami Account Transaction Bill before the National Assembly.

APAT Liberty Market president Safdar Butt was also present on the occasion.

The traders also demanded extension in deadline for Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme till 30th June, 2016 instead of extending the Scheme for 15 days every month. “All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran is representative of the Benami Account holding traders. We also represent the unregistered sector. The government is going to constitute a Benami Account Prohibition Law without consulting the Benami Account holders representing body. The Bill has no inputs of traders and we have not been informed about its details,” Mir said. “We are totally against transactions under Benami Accounts and we support the government that all businesses and transactions under Benami Accounts should be ceased,” he said.

He said that the government should consult FPCCI, chambers tax bars and trade associations and constitute a committee representing them and FBR officials should also be included in it.

He further said that the NAB should refer the case first to this committee and on directives of this committee the NAB would pursue the case against Benami Account holders.

Naeem Mir said that the APAT delegation will also meet with finance minister, Ishaq Dar on Tuesday in Islamabad and will raise their concerns in this regard.

He said the traders’ community was faced with multiple issues, particularly distrust of the FBR.

On tax amnesty scheme, he further said: “We all wanted this scheme to cater to at least one million traders but it cannot be done just in few weeks or few months. We could not even launch awareness campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the murder of provincial head Halim Jan at the hands of criminals and extortionists, while no preparations have been made for Balochistan.”

This scheme, he claimed, was the only way to bring the traders into the tax net and increase tax collections. “There are several lobbies who don’t want to see this scheme become a reality,” he added.