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LAHORE: In an extreme action against the country’s largest public sector entity, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday attached the entire bank accounts of the National Transmission and Despatch Company Ltd (NTDCL) for its failure in depositing withholding tax of over Rs1.26 billion for the fiscal year 2009-10.

The NTDCL administration has protested over the attachment of accounts, stating that the action may delay a number of important power transmission projects, including those being executed on fast track under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“We have already contested this case by going into an arbitration since we believe we have already paid the tax (Rs50 million approximately) for the year 2009-10 manually. But the FBR doesn’t accept this manual way of paying tax despite the fact we already told them that it was not possible to pay and show it electronically in our tax returns due to the non-availability of such facility in 2010,” a senior NTDC official told Dawn on anonymity request.

The official said NTDC tried hard to convince the FBR to audit the former’s accounts in detail, but the latter didn’t agree. “We even hired an independent consultant to review our accounts and check the authenticity of our documents. The consultant also endorsed our claim, but the only problem was the manual deduction and deposition of tax in 2010 that is not being accepted by the FBR,” he explained.

The official wondered how the FBR could term a public sector entity a defaulter in such a situation. “When we are inviting and showing them again and again our record, why they are not accepting it? They are just insisting to file the same electronically in the FBR system, but the NTDC is unable to do so since their system is not accepting this despite efforts on our part,” he went on.

“How we can ignore to deduct the withholding tax at source and deposit the same in the government treasury. We have all proof, but the FBR doesn’t accept this and is directing us to either file the same electronically or pay Rs1.26bn or so. It is absolutely illegal and we have already challenged this in the court of law,” the official deplored.

Meanwhile, an NTDC spokesman termed the FBR action illegal for misusing power. “The attachment of NTDC accounts by FBR is absolutely illegal. The NTDC reserves the right to challenge the action in the court,” he said, adding that NTDC is a public sector institution which is involved in various projects of national and international importance. The action will affect the pace of work on various CPEC projects being executed by the company,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2018