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FBR barred from making unauthorised raids

FBR barred from making unauthorised raids

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) not to conduct raids at any business entity without the authorisation of its chairman or member operations.

“The committee will collect monthly details of raids from all chambers of commerce and industry in the country and will scrutinise each case to determine whether the taxpayer was at fault or FBR officials were exploiting the situation under the garb of raid,” committee chairman Senator Salim Mandviwala said.

He said the decision of the meeting would be forwarded to Chairman Senate and the Speaker National Assembly.

The decision was made after a lengthy discussion over the conduct of FBR officials while scrutinising the tax details of businesses.

The business community including major chambers of commerce and industries and key associations were invited to the meeting to express their concerns against FBR officials.

The committee was briefed by veteran leader of the business community Haroon Farooki who said that all chambers and associations represented tax payers only. The young and junior officials issue notices which take up to three months to clear, he said.

Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) Arif Jeeva highlighted that FBR officials conducted raid at the office of the association’s chairman and confiscated all records including computers.

“When we approached the higher authorities, everything was returned. This too is strange. FBR should at least seek the required tax details from us,” Mr Jeeva said.

Senators Mohsin Aziz, Ilyas Bilour and Kamil Ali Agha were very critical of the FBR.

They said the raids were conducted in a manner to create fear among the tax payers – a move that ‘will enhance the rate of bargain’.

These words were taken seriously by senior FBR officials who claimed that those who were corrupt feared the FBR.

Responding to their complaints, senior officials of the FBR including member legal said corruption was now part of social fabric and blaming only one department was not fair.

Chairman FBR Dr Muhammad Irshad said the business community should file complaints against corrupt officials too.

“We established a forum for alternate dispute resolution (ADR) three months ago but only five complaints were received. If the response remains the same we will close it down after one month,” he said.

Finally it was decided that all chambers of commerce would file cases at ADR. None of the chambers or any association would back a non-filer in case of FBR action against them while the raids by FBR will be conducted after authorisation from the chairman or member operation, in coordination with the relevant chamber.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2017

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