ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be a last reminder, Pakistan’s top tax machinery has approached the finance ministry of the United Arab Emirates for provision of information about those Pakistanis who have sought iqama (work permit) under the residence by investment scheme in a bid to hide their illegal wealth.
The request for sharing data was made through a formal letter sent by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to the UAE finance ministry, according to an official announcement here on Monday. The FBR has sent several rejoinders since October this year, but the UAE finance ministry has yet to respond to these.
The tax authority in its fresh letter warned that “Pakistan would be constrained to seriously consider rolling out appropriate measures, including termination of Pakistan-UAE avoidance of double taxation agreement, at an early date in case data is still not shared”. In order to avoid such a situation, the FBR has requested the UAE to provide a well laid out roadmap on iqama holders’ information.
The Dubai Land Department (DLD) had in October provided the data of those Pakistani nationals who obtained residence by investments in real estate. However, the DLD has yet to provide data about the Pakistani nationals who have obtained iqama to allegedly hide their illegal wealth.
The FBR in its letter said that such delinquent Pakistani nationals had not only siphoned off funds out of the country and parked them in the UAE, but also effectively circumvented the OECD-sponsored common reporting standard exchange of bank and financial account information. It regretted that the UAE finance ministry had not so far responded to FBR’s all earlier written requests in this regard.
The FBR letter further stated that the automatic exchange of information framework, in essence, was conceived and implemented to put up a well-coordinated and concerted global fight against organised tax theft and to inject transparency in the international taxes system.
At a Pakistan-UAE meeting on exchange of information held in Dubai on Oct 9-10, a commitment was made to come up with a detailed formal response. However, no reply was received from the UAE and a few subsequent rejoinders by the FBR went unanswered, even unacknowledged.
The UAE’s persistent silence on FBR’s efforts to develop a robust framework for sharing of structured information about iqama holders has not been productive so far. “The best inter-nation relationships are mutually responsive, symbiotic and empathetic, and are the product of superior diplomatic wisdom,” the FBR letter stated.
Pakistan and the UAE had on Feb 13, 1993 signed the agreement for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes. Both countries have historically continued to maintain a vibrant exchange of information between them. The sighing of the OECD-Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (OECD-MC) has reinforced its importance.
Moreover, Pakistan and the UAE have in place an active automatic exchange of information on bank and financial accounts under a common reporting standard — the Multilateral Competent Authority agreement signed under the OECD-MC.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2019