Finance secretary asked to probe why PayPal is not operating in Pakistan

Published July 8, 2021
A parliamentary panel on Wednesday directed the finance secretary to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to probe why PayPal is not operating in Pakistan. — AP/File
A parliamentary panel on Wednesday directed the finance secretary to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to probe why PayPal is not operating in Pakistan. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Wednesday directed the finance secretary to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to probe why PayPal is not operating in Pakistan.

The panel also recommended that there should be an exemption in custom taxes on import of especially designed mobile phones for visually-impaired people.

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance Revenue and Economic Affairs was held at the Parliament House with Senator Talha Mahmood in the chair where the issue was discussed. People are unable to take full advantage of Amazon because PayPal does not operate in Pakistan, committee members pointed out.

The committee took up a petition filed by a citizen Mohammad Bilal Mukhtar, who had requested the Senate Secretariat to look into the issue.

“We want PayPal in Pakistan as there are lots of people who are working as free lancers and we face issues regarding payment and PayPal is the most convenient way to transfer or receive funds from freelancing websites and clients,” the petitioner stated. His petition was referred to the senate committee by the Senate Secretariat.

Senate body takes up petition, urges relevant authorities to look into the matter

During the committee meeting, a representative of State Bank of Pakistan said that there is no restriction by State Bank of Pakistan on PayPal. According to a document of the Finance Division, presented before the committee PayPal is a private company with a presence in various countries.

“However, PayPal has not approached State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for the same. Entering into a particular market is a business decision and SBP is of the view that there is no restriction on entry/operations of any international payment gateway in Pakistan subject to compliance of related foreign exchange regulations,” read the document.

Committee members said that PayPal is operating in many small countries that have a population lower than that of Pakistan, but it is surprising that they are not operating in Pakistan – a country with an over 220 million population.

The committee tasked Finance Secretary Yusuf Khan to hold meetings with all stakeholders to find out why PayPal and e-commerce giant Amazon is not operating in the country and sought a report after a month. In May this year, Amazon had added Pakistan to its seller’s list however due to non-availability of PayPal, people are unable to properly benefit from the facility.

The committee also discussed another public petition, seeking exemption of customs duty on mobile phones for visually-impaired people.

Representatives of the Customs Wing told committee members that the issue is being examined in consultation with Ministry of Health. Members unanimously supported the petition. The committee chairman directed representatives of Ministry of Commerce and Health to attend the next meeting in order to brief the committee about the issue.

Earlier, a senior officer of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) briefed the committee about tax notices issued during the last three years. The committee members including Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Musadik Malik, Farooq H. Naek and others said that FBR during the last three years issued millions of notices, but it could not collect tax in accordance with the number of notices issued.

The committee members, including Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said those officials of FBR who issue false notices to people as well as tax defaulters should be given stern punishment. In his emotional remarks, railways minister said that FBR officials, who issue false notices and tax defaulters should be hanged.

The committee was also informed that there is leakage of Rs1,350 billion tax as people submitted incomplete information in their returns and FBR has been working on collecting this amount, but due to litigation and other issues, this has been delayed. The committee said that the total revenue is around Rs4,000 billion and when FBR will collect the said Rs1,350 billion, it will be a big booster for the country’s economy.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021

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