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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday asked the Federal Board of Revenue to complete pending inquiries against corrupt tax officials within the prescribed period of three months.

Expressing displeasure over the delay in completing the inquiries, a meeting of the committee presided over by its chairman Senator Farooq Hamid Naek gave the FBR another three months and directed its chief to personally submit the report in this regard to the committee.

The Senate committee had in February asked the FBR to complete the inquiries within three months.

Committee’s convener Senator Mohsin Aziz said inquiries had been pending against 180 corrupt officers for the past many years. The FBR, he alleged, was not completing the inquiry intentionally.

Senators Ateq Shaikh and Musadiq Malik criticised the FBR for not acting against the corrupt officers and said it seemed that it was waiting for their retirement.

The committee also sought details from the FBR regarding tax concessions in the wake of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The meeting deferred a point raised by Senator Talha Mahmood regarding depreciation of the rupee against the dollar due to the absence of the finance minister and State Bank governor. The committee expressed displeasure over their absence, with chairman Naek asking the minister to ensure his presence at the next meeting.

The meeting was told that a case relating to tax issues being faced by the Sino-Hydro Corporation Limited had been sent to an appellate court and an exemption certificate would be issued within a week if the decision came in favour of the corporation.

About the issue of modalities for the implementation of tax relief regimes announced by the government during the passage of the Fata merger bill, the committee suggested that the FBR give a detailed briefing on tax exemptions granted through SRO 887(1)2018 i.e. prior to the merger.

While discussing issue of sudden changes in customs tariff, especially those of copper, cotton and some other items after the passage of the federal budget 2018-19, the meeting suggested that in future such changes in tariff by the cabinet should be presented in parliament.

The meeting was attended by senators Mian Mohammad Ateeq Shaikh, Mohsin Aziz, Dilawar Khan, Khanzada Khan, Muhammad Akram and Musadik Masood Malik and senior officials of the FBR and ministries of finance and law and justice.

Senators Fida Mohammad, Mirza Mohammad Afridi and Shamim Afridi were specially invited to the meeting for their input on issues that came under discussion with regards to the Fata merger bill/25th constitutional amendment.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2018