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TIP asks premier to put on hold proposed ‘tax amnesty scheme’

TIP asks premier  to put on hold proposed ‘tax amnesty scheme’

ISLAMABAD: The Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to allow the proposed tax amnesty scheme announced by Finance Minister Ishaq recently because “the move will amount to a ‘Financial NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance)’ for tax evaders and big tax dodgers”.

In a letter to the prime minister on Saturday, the TIP feared that “the scheme will discourage the honest, loyal and fully compliant taxpayer citizens of this poor nation”.

At the same time, it says, national exchequer will suffer a big loss in tax collection when untaxed money up to Rs50 million is offered to be cleared by merely paying pennies — one per cent — while as per the law the said untaxed, ill-gotten money may be taxed at 35pc with 100pc penalty.

Another very crucial aspects of the proposed amnesty scheme, the Transparency says, is that the creator of the scheme is treating other organs of the state like National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, anti-corruption, money laundering (State Bank) as impotent like the functionaries of Federal Board of Revenue and the most important and vigilant organs of the state have turned toothless tigers under the garb of the proposed scheme.

The prime minister is expected to announce the concession later this month as part of the government’s plan to bring more business to the tax net.

The TIP recalled that such an effort was also made in 2012 with the government preferring short-cuts to extend a major relief to the elite ahead of the general elections. At that time the PPP-led coalition government had introduced a controversial “Tax Amnesty Bill” in the National Assembly to whiten black money and assets at home and abroad within three months against a nominal one-time charge. But the scheme was not approved by parliament when it was strongly opposed by civil society and the TIP and the matter of the tax amnesty scheme was taken up with the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2015

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