QUETTA, Aug 4: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Justice (retd) Salim Akhtar has said that he will frequently visit Quetta to redress the grievances of tax payers in Balochistan until a local branch of the FTO is opened in the city.
An office for the ombudsman will be established in the city if and when the number of cases and complaints increase significantly, he said in reply to a question, while speaking at a seminar on “The Role of Federal Tax Ombudsman” on Saturday evening.
Mr Akhtar said the institution of the FTO had been set up to help out the tax payers and check malpractice and mismanagement in the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) and other tax-collecting departments.
Among others, Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and many senior officials of the CBR and other departments concerned attended the seminar, which was arranged by the Balochistan Tax Bar Association.
The ombudsman said the institution of the FTO would also help the government establish good governance and make the country a welfare state.
“FTO would take measures for improvement in the tax system existing in the country,” he said, adding that such institutions were successfully working in 120 countries of the world, and were providing speedy justice to aggrieved tax payers, besides sympathetically listening to their complaints.
In Pakistan, he said, the FTO office had been working well since its inception two years ago by the government. He added that during that period, the office had received more than 2,800 complaints, out of which 2,100 cases had been disposed of. Moreover, 73 cases of misconduct had also been referred to the CBR, on which it had taken prompt actions, he added.
Regarding the jurisdiction of the FTO office, he said the federal revenue division department and all the institutions dealing with tax collection lay within the confinements of the office that could take any official of the institutions into account for any malpractice or corruption. He noted that the departments had to abide by the directives of the institution.
The CBR Human Resource member, Zafar Usmani, said the government had recently opened a large tax-payers’ unit in Karachi, which had relieved the tax payers to a great extent, as the staff working there were very polite. The centre would gradually be extended to other cities of the country, he added.
He declared that the government would introduce a universal self-assessment scheme, regarding payment of taxes from the next fiscal year after which about 80 per cent of the tax payers would get freedom from going to the offices of tax officials.