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January 3, 2016

‘Amnesty scheme failure of tax collectors’

Lahore

January 3, 2016

Jang Economic Session

LAHORE

The tax amnesty scheme announced by the prime minister is actually a failure of the tax collecting agencies while the government may not get desired revenue collection from it as apparently scheme has been launched for political objectives.

These views were expressed by experts at the Jang Economic Session on ‘Does any Amnesty Scheme Require in Existing Economic Scenario’ on Saturday. The panelists were President LCCI Sheikh Arshad, former Chairman FBR Ansar Javeed, Ex-Member FBR Mustafa Ashraf, Dr Yasir Mehmood, Imran Afzal and Raja Hamid Riaz. The session was hosted by Sikindar Lodhi.

Sheikh Arshad said history of amnesty schemes in Pakistan was very old, which was started from Bhutto regime while amnesty scheme's announcement was a failure of the tax collecting agencies and traders' protest was not resolved in the scheme. He believed the government might not get desired tax collection from this scheme. He said scheme was introduced to bring one million people in tax net while the scheme was announced to achieve political objectives and economy would not benefit from it. He said scheme would protect corruption and black money. He called for steps in the larger interest of the country by making tax collecting agencies effective to improve tax collection system.

Ansar Javeed said bringing the undocumented economy and huge tax collection in the net were the major issues which were common and desired in any developing country. He believed tax amnesty schemes were based on injustice, which negatively exposed the failure of regulatory laws and agencies. He said amnesty for getting economic objectives could give positive results but political objective would be disastrous. He said economic managers should evolve a long-term policy to increase revenue generation. He believed if the FBR machinery work was run with full spirit then such schemes would never be required so the FBR
should be effective and corruption-free to achieve economic targets. He said amnesty schemes discouraged tax culture so the government should not accept the demands of pressure groups.

Mustafa Ashraf said amnesty scheme might fail like the past schemes. He said two years' return filing of 2008 amnesty scheme was not implemented then how thre-year return file condition could be implemented this year. He said all the objectives could be achieved by implementing the Section 122 instead of tax audit system. He said amnesty scheme was announced for traders but not for companies while tax return filing for public was to trap them. He said one million people would not come in the tax-net until their confidence was restored in government. He said amnesty scheme was a nexus between the government and tax filers, which was a white collar crime. He called for tax reforms to make taxation system easy and facilitate the public.

Dr Yasir Mehmood said all the amnesty schemes were disastrous since not a single objective was achieved from them. He called for setting some severe punishments for tax evasion and giving some time to the tax evaders for filing tax.

Imran Afzal said the government was responsible for the rule of law and implementation on the scheme was a big challenge for the government. He said amnesty scheme had given impression of the failure of governance and all institutions. He said the FBR had access to all information but could not be able to increase tax filers from 800,000. He said Benami account-holders would benefit from this amnesty scheme for whitening money. He called for discouraging tax evasion at every level.

Raja Hamid Riaz said tax amnesty was an old wine in the new bottle while temporary arrangements would not correct taxation system. He said the government should give amnesty with condition that limit rolling of money.