Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has assured businessmen that the Ministry for Finance will review the Third Amendment of Tax Laws 2021 and look into the possibility of re-examining the term non-filer and under-filer.

His comments came during a meeting with officials from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Saturday. Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, energy minister and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the businessmen, Dawood said that the government is considering waiving off the duty on import of cotton yarn. He said that the business community’s demand of reduction in the levy on traders and brokers of cotton yarn from 0.1% to 0.01% had been taken into consideration.

Appreciating the recommendation of granting warehousing, cold chain and cold storage segment the status of industry, he told traders that the government would deliberate on the matter.

He reiterated that the drawback on local taxes and levies (DLTL) scheme will continue, however, the government might increase the percentage of the levy.

“Old income tax claims will be refunded at the earliest,” Dawood stated.

Also speaking on the occasion, Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar agreed to the demand of traders related to provision of re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to the export-oriented industries of Sindh at $6.5 per mmbtu.

He added that the Ministry of Finance would sanction subsidy and a relevant notification will also be issued in this regard.

Azhar stated that the Ministry of Energy would also convene a meeting to discuss businessmen’s concerns pertaining to gas crises in the winter season so that the government could ensure smooth supply of fuel to industries and consumers of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) during those months.

He told the business community that the managing director of SSGC will be advised to hold a meeting with traders of Karachi.

Former KCCI president Zubair Motiwala had earlier voiced concern over the discrimination in cost of RLNG supplied to the export-oriented industries of Sindh.

Elaborating on the tax issue, the finance minister further assured participants that the FBR would share relevant data with chambers and also upload it on the website.

“The government intends to take help of artificial intelligence and assessment will be done through third party while appropriate time of 90 days will be provided to tax evaders for settlement,” he said.

FBR Chairman Dr Ashfaq Ahmed told the businessmen that the government will review the computerised national identity card (CNIC) condition and 3% tax on sales to unregistered persons.

KCCI officials were of the view that presentation of CNIC should be optional and not mandatory because 3% tax on sales to unregistered persons was already being collected.

He also promised to hold a virtual meeting with the business community next week to discuss progress on various taxation issues.

He also addressed the problems faced by the businessmen due to the obligation to place invoice and packing list inside the imported container or consignment.

The lawmakers assured to review KCCI’s proposal stating that banks should be directed to accept the documents only after they make sure that the invoice and packing list are attached and the consignment should be released with the provision of invoice and packing list from Customs.

The government officials assured the businessmen that they will consider their recommendation to amend a provision inserted in the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 that gives FBR the power to disable mobile phones and sims and disconnect electricity and gas connections to enforce filing of tax returns. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2021.

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