January 18, 2016
President Pakistan Businessmen Intellectual Forum (PBIF) and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, Former Provincial Minister of Information Technology and First Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI Mian Zahid Hussain expressed his utmost concern on the proposed amendments in Anti Money Laundering (AML) Act and bringing tax crimes under its ambit. He said that although majority officers are virtuous and performing their responsibilities prudently but, number of corrupt officers may misuse these powers to harass taxpayers and to create coercive demands, he feared.
Mian Zahid Hussain stated that Collection on the basis of show cause notices and unilateral demands have now been reached to 7% of the total revenue collections by FBR and last year growth of 43% have been witnessed under this head. He said that after aforementioned amendments, share of collection on demand will further increase, but on the other hand, corrupt officials will have more power to afflict businessmen thus discourage investment in the country.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that Govt. is having view that these amendments will allow the use of AML tools to counter tax evasion and abuse of the investment incentive scheme to whiten criminal proceeds but, Business Community believed that proposed amendments may become a tool in the hand of Black sheep to suppress Business Community for personal gain and advantage. He said that proposed amendments will have dry out effect on Investment and it might lead to flight of capital and will reduce Tax-to-GDP ratio, that is now 11%, significantly below that of comparative developing countries. He added that, if proposed amendments are approved, the tax evader will be subject to punishment of imprisonment, from one to ten years, fine, extent up to one million, and forfeiture of property.
He stated that it is long awaited wish of IMF to include section 192 and 194 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 under the ambit of AML Act but, it is not matter of just an amendment, whole investment environment of the country would be depending upon it. Mian Zahid Hussain further stated that the Parliament last year approved amendments in AML Act that brought section 11 and 19 of the Sales Tax Act 1990 and section 19(3) of Federal Excise act under the ambit of AML, on the desire of IMF.
He urged the Govt. to defer the idea to include section 192 and 194 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 into the scope of AML Act till the meaningful consultation with Business Community, proper reforms could take place and transparency is ensured.