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ISLAMABAD, Jan 2: The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly directed the Federal Board of Revenue on Wednesday to make the names of all major tax defaulters public.

Presided over by Nadeem Afzal Gondal, a meeting of the PAC unanimously decided to ask FBR Chairman Ali Arshad Hakeem to provide next week a list of all those civil and military bureaucrats, landlords, businessmen and owners of media houses, who were not paying taxes.

In the second week of December last year, a non-governmental organisation released a report titled ‘Representation without taxation’ which said 60 per cent of cabinet members and two thirds of lawmakers paid no tax last year.

Since then a large number of lawmakers have been up in arms against the report. They have termed it a deliberate attempt to defame politicians. And now they have asked the FBR to make public names of all those individuals and companies also which were known tax defaulters.

PML-N’s Khawaja Asif said that three years ago he had approached the FBR to look into tax details of former President Gen Pervez Musharraf, but as of today there was no response.

“When it comes to politicians, everybody in the FBR is willing to belittle us and in the report, it appears as if only politicians are not paying taxes and the rest are all law-abiding citizens,” complained Khwaja Asif. Without naming anyone, he said several media houses despite earning billions of rupees, were not even paying salary to their employees and their names should also be made public.

PML-Q’s Hamid Yaar Hiraj said that under the Constitution, details of tax returns of a Pakistani were not a public document and, therefore, whosoever had leaked out details of lawmakers’ tax returns, was guilty of wrongdoing and should be punished.

Mr Hiraj also said that only the FBR had the right to proceed against tax defaulters which it should do under the Constitution.

“And if names of lawmakers can be published in newspapers even for their minor mistakes then why not of the big fish who are actually damaging the country by not paying taxes,” Mr Hiraj said.

FBR Chairman Ali Arshad Hakeem put the blame for leakage of information pertaining to tax details of lawmakers on the Election Commission of Pakistan. But, Mr Hiraj refused to accept his explanation. He said as far as his own tax returns were concerned only the FBR had information about it. Other PAC members agreed and criticised the FBR chairman for absolving his department of what they described as “criminal negligence”.

Mr Hakeen said he had launched an investigation into the matter and those found guilty of leaking the information to media would be taken to task.

Mr Hakeem, however, suggested to PAC members to treat the much maligned report as an opportunity for better taxation in the country.

He informed the committee that the FBR was involved in litigation against tax-defaulters of over Rs200 billion. The simplest way not to pay tax in the country was to secure a stay order from a court, the FBR chairman said, adding that the country needed major overhaul and improvement in the tax collection mechanism. He said the FBR would soon provide details of major tax defaulters to the committee soon.

PAC Chairman Gondal said whosoever was a tax defaulter should be punished in accordance with the law and there was nothing wrong in making their names public.

He directed the FBR to send notices to all tax defaulters and publish their names in the next 10 days so they could also face embarrassment like lawmakers.

Comments (9) Closed

Umair Ahmad Jan 03, 2013 09:12pm
Love your comment. Khawaja Asif is less of a lawmaker more of a joker!!! lmfao
numbersnumbers Jan 03, 2013 11:27pm
Interesting country, one can be a high ranking government VVIP and not have any taxes withheld from ones very fat government paycheck!!! You would think that someone in the payroll department would have noticed!
Akram Jan 03, 2013 06:14pm
they want to blame FBR for the fact the truth leaked out about their tax dodging? khwaja asif objects because other people also don't pay tax? bhai saab they are not public servants! MNA's should set an example. if they are tax dodgers then the public should be made aware at election time. these people seem to believe they have a god given right to power.
sultan Jan 03, 2013 02:57pm
by doing this what they will pay taxes no not at all we need a strong govt and honest socitey.
ahmad butt Jan 03, 2013 12:17pm
I think it should be name and shame everyone regardless of their political or otherwise affiliation. If the media houses are cheating the system, they should be exposed. Why does it become a finger pointing tactic and then gets side-lined?
M. S. Alvi Jan 03, 2013 02:40pm
It may be illegal to leak out the tax return info of any person, but he still has to pay taxes. The main purpose of getting elected as MNA's is not to pay, corruption, and freedom to do any illegal activity without fear of law.
Taha Lateef Jan 03, 2013 10:05am
Amir Dewani Jan 07, 2013 02:46pm
Tax evaders are the criminals.. Why they are not being jailed? If they happen to be the lawmakers then even public flogging would be insufficient. I don't understand how this country is being run without revenue generation. It is also being given that billions of dollars are being sent for overseas bank accounts to hide extra black money in the tax havens. Recently here in America they heavily fined some of the Swiss banks, and even one bank accepted having committing the crime and had to close. Why your country is only talking of a 'mowlana' and a 'mastana' from London and Canada respectively as I watch the TV shows, while nothing doing about the hidden wealth of the nation? Here the lawmakers are busy tackling the 'fiscal-cliff' issues, but nothing of the sort happening in Pakistan? It looks nothing can be done because of the core leaders who are corrupt; opposition also equally involved. And your major banks are serving as conduits to the smugglers, black marketers and tax evaders. Pakistan needs honest and corruption free law enforcement machinery.God bless the poor!
sraz45 Jan 08, 2013 06:08pm
Pakistan should have done two things right at the onset of its creation. One abolish fuedalism, second because of that it could have had a fair taxation system by now. India did both those things, and even today their Revenue collecters can jail you if you cannot prove the source of your income. The law makers in Pakistan do not pay taxes how are you going to collect tax from the ordinary citizen.