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Event Title: Senator Saleem Mandviwalla Presides over a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue at Parliament House.

Event Date: 2023-02-21

The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee urge the Federal Board of Revenue to seek speedy disposal of weighty cases by the FBR before various court specifically those bringing significant revenue to the country. The committee was apprised that a total of 76,349 pending litigation cases Inland Revenue service till 31st -12-2022 amounting to a total of 2.330 bl. Rupees out of which 63,655 cases are of the appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue. The FBR informed the committee that they are trying to approach the secretary and Minister Law for record of these cases. The Chairman FBR informed the committee that back to back meeting with the chief Justice Lahore High Court and Chief Justice Islamabad High court are being conducted and making all efforts to liquidate its pendency. Mandviwalla said that the Customs Operation wing has already set up Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADRCs). mechanism for quick and amicable disposal of pending litigation cases and settlement should be made through ADRCs’ the committee also suggested if cases can be resolved outside court. It was also suggested that cases should be disposed of on the basis of "benefit of doubt".  The FBR informed that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has prioritized the disposal of revenue cases by constituting three benches where revenue cases are fixed on daily basis. Likewise on the matter of notices being sent by the FBR to business persons under Anti-Money Laundering Act, was also taken under discussion once again. The chairman FBR commented that we are cautiously identifying cases. He said that Huge tax evasion was detected in the case of PEB industries PVT. Limited during the inquiry and in the light of information received from the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), it was further informed that the accused was provided ample opportunities but it failed to respond.  The chairman committee reserved that there is difference between tax evasion and AMLA and failing to response cannot fall under the category of money laundering.  The chairman committee compelled the FBR to avoid bundling up cases under the AMLA act hampering the business community to trade he also put special emphasis on keeping a close check on pending cases in different fora for early disposal and discourage frivolous litigation. The committee informed that all chief collectors/Director General have been asked to forward the recommendations for filing appeals/SCRAs after satisfying themselves to legality involved in order to dispose of cases.

Discussion on the matter referred by the Chairman Senate regarding amendments in Customs Act 1969 and inclusion of import issues in the next budget raised by Senior Vice Chairman, Rawalpindi Goods Forwarding Association was also taken up. The Rawalpindi Goods Forwarding Association complained that Customs goods already cleared at entry points are unnecessarily checked during transportation across the country on the pretext of being smuggled ones. “Road Interruption, Simply Corruption” Senator Kamil Ali Agha remarked while regretting the norms of the field formation. He said that these field formations are in wait of bribe and added that deliberate snubbing of the business vehicles is unjustified and causing enormous loss to the vehicle companies. The Federal Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that it is an administrative procedure and an amendment in the act is not required at this stage. It was further informed by the FBR that the complaine has been examined and the field formations have been directed by the Board that Vehicle carrying customs –cleared imported goods duly accompanied by import documents and showing the direct transportation from the port/ station of clearance, may initially be subjected to tallying the documents with the transport /container. The FRB said that no Vehicle will be stopped on provision of the required documents without discrepancy. The Rawalpindi Good association contended that document for retail goods is impractical. Vehicles carrying retail good cards should only be checked at entry and destination points. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that fake documents can easily be obtained and is providing an open gate to smugglers whereas the genuine transporter is being obstructed. He said this norm is leading to more corruption and mistrust on the mechanism of the customs. The association lamented that there are 25 check posts from Karachi to Khyber and checking at each post is causing damage to goods and enormous loss of time and labor. The association also suggested exercising (Goods Transport Private Limited) GFC rules and regulation under the law benefiting the transport association. The chairman Committee directed to make a way Forward and save the transport association from loss of time and labor hindering business and trade.  

Matter referring to National Bank of Pakistan on the termination of service of Hafiz Abdul Samad Shaikh , EX OG-I form NBP , Ghotki Branch was also taken up. The committee remarked that the NBP needs to adopt a more professional and fair treatment while running the organization. The committee observed that the grievance of Hafiz Abdul is subjected to discrimination. “ if all the  employees were accused in a NAB case then why only Hafiz was terminated while he was later acquitted from the case. The committee directed the National Bank of Pakistan for fair and just treatment. The committee also directed the NBP to avoid any bad recommendations against him and also directed to reconsider the induction of the employee on sympathetic grounds if applied afresh.  The committee also showed reservation on the thug style conduct of the reps of the National Bank in the meeting.  

While discussing the matter of EXIM bank of Pakistan requesting the PPRA to guide them regarding applicability of PPRA Rules on re-insurance arrangements and if the same are applicable on Re-insurance arrangements, then exemption may be granted from Public Procurement Rules, 2004. The committee remarked it cannot be comprehended as to how come bidding can occur on re insurance as this  has not been the practice anywhere in the world. “this is Government organizations sabotaging each other Senator Saadia Abbasi commented while saying that such amendment in the PPR rules is to stop organization to do business. Causing loss to economy of the country she said. The Minister also directed the PPRA to hold meeting and resolve the matter. It was recommended that the exemption request of the Exim bank of Pakistan should be presented before the PPRA Board for consideration and approval in its forth coming meeting in accordance with section 21 of the PPRA ordinance 2002.

The committee also took briefing by the Ministry of Finance on the budgetary proposals relating to PSDP for financial year 2023-24. The committee believed that projects were unattainable on account of the cumulative expenditure. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that we have been only raising high sky buildings without economizing the country from dire economic crisis such as now. The committee also recommended the foreign donors to reevaluate the foreign projects and analyze whether or not they are attainable.   

The meeting was attended by Senator Saadia Abbasi and Senator Kamil Ali Agha. Federal Minister of State for Finance, Chairman FBR and other senior officers from concerned departments also attended the meeting.