Granting FBR powers to arrest businessmen not acceptable: Miftah Ismail

Published June 20, 2021
PML-N leader Miftah Ismail said PTI's government tax policies has strongly hit the business community. — File/DawnNewsTV
PML-N leader Miftah Ismail said PTI's government tax policies has strongly hit the business community. — File/DawnNewsTV

PML-N leader and former finance minister Mistah Ismail on Sunday strongly opposed the government’s decision to grant powers to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) commissioners to arrest citizens including businessmen, calling it “unnecessary and a tool for harassment”.

A similar concern was raised by the opposition in the Senate earlier this week and demanded of the government to revoke the absolute powers granted to FBR officials for making arrests without warrants. Federal Minister for Law, Farogh Naseem, had assured the Upper House that the provision would be toned down.

The law minister had agreed in principle that it would be inappropriate to arrest a person prior to adjudication and said that provisions to this effect in the income tax, sales tax and customs laws would be reviewed.

Speaking at a press conference today, Ismail said the government's tax policies had already burdened the business community, "and now the arrest powers to FBR will further shake confidence of businessmen and it will pave way for harassment, which we are strongly opposed to."

He also highlighted that the government had imposed a condition upon taxpayers to submit total tax amount as “identified” by FBR commissioner. “Like, if the commissioner has asked a person his outstanding tax dues amount to Rs500 million, he first has to pay the entire amount before filing a review plea, which is totally unjust,” he said, adding that previously there was a condition to submit 10 per cent amount and avail the review option.

The PML leader said everyone knew once the money was deposited to FBR, it couldn’t be reclaimed.

Ismail said such conditions would not increase revenue, but would fuel anxiety among the business community.

The former finance minister said the FBR still had Rs 700 billion in income tax refunds, which they had not yet been paid.

He said the government had fixed Rs 610bn for petroleum levy, and the current indicators showed that about Rs30.5 would be further increased in petroleum prices, which in turn may further lead to a hike in the price of basic edibles.

He said that the IMF programme for Pakistan was currently suspended, while the World Bank also withdrew its $600bn and the ADB also froze its payment. He added that Pakistan's plan to get IMF funding restored through US talks was unfeasible and may have repercussions.

He also criticised the government for “failing to meet IMF targets in the last two years.” He said the G20 granted Pakistan $2bn exemption, but the government couldn't make the most of it.

Opinion

Sub judice rule
18 Sep 2021

Sub judice rule

It is time this objection, sub judice, is laid to rest.
The Black Caps folly
Updated 18 Sep 2021

The Black Caps folly

There is so much wrong — and worrying — about the entire sorry episode of New Zealand backing out of Pakistan tour.
CT NAP revisited
Updated 18 Sep 2021

CT NAP revisited

A policy of appeasement towards extremists has undermined the state’s writ.
Pathways for reform
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pathways for reform

Even now the government has said they are listening, but they have not said how they are listening.

Editorial

Blinken’s remarks
Updated 18 Sep 2021

Blinken’s remarks

The US establishment cannot scapegoat Pakistan for two decades of bad policy in Afghanistan.
18 Sep 2021

Worrying survey

THE findings of the Labour Force Survey 2018-19 indicate that some important headline trends have already taken or...
18 Sep 2021

Special needs

THE fact that only 3,653 children with special needs, out of some 300,000 in Sindh, are registered with the...
TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...