LAHORE, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that Pakistan must enhance its tax collection and the tax-to-GDP ratio in order to overcome its perennial financial woes and end its undue reliance on foreign aid.
While addressing an awareness seminar about the role of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) at Governor House in Lahore on Saturday, the president urged the need to facilitate tax-payers by dispensing speedy and cost-effective justice to aggrieved taxpayers against the maladministration of tax officials, adding that the adopting of people-friendly attitude and open-door policy by tax officials would encourage more people to voluntarily become part of the tax-net.
The Governor Punjab Muhammad Baligh-Ur-Rehman, the FTO Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah, Officials of FTO, and Members of the Business Community attended the seminar.
Lahore: President Dr. Arif Alvi addressing the Awareness Session for Taxpayers
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In his address, the president underlined the need to end the practice of frivolous litigation by the tax administration against the decisions of FTO in cases where the cost of litigation exceeded the amount of tax involved to save government departments’ time and resources.
President Arif Alvi further said that taxes were essential for effectively running the governance system, adding that the business community should voluntarily comply with the tax regime whereas the tax machinery should facilitate the taxpayers and make filing of taxes easier and reduce the cost of tax compliance to further widen the tax base.
The President said that latest IT tools, including complaint management system, web-based chatbots, web portals, and mobile applications, could be adopted to enhance the registration and resolution of tax payers’ complaints.
The president urged FTO to effectively play its role in the resolution of complaints by creating awareness among people about its role and services.
Dr. Arif Alvi appreciated FTO for incorporating the alternative dispute resolution to mediate between the taxpayers and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for achieving mutual agreement and settlement among the parties which, he said, not only provided expeditious relief to the taxpayers but also reduced the cost litigation for the FBR.
The president said the process of lodging the complaint by the affected should be made easier by using electronic means of communication for lodging or filing complaints and recording of statements by the complainants and witnesses.
This, he said, would encourage the affectees to approach the FTO for the resolution of their issues against the maladministration of tax officials.
The president also said that Pakistan had enacted laws to ensure the protection of women’s property rights wherein Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment at Workplace (FOSPAH) would help the women in vacating the encroached upon property registered in her name within stipulated time period, adding that it was a big step towards the economic and financial empowerment of women.
President Arif Alvi said that although Pakistan was going through challenging times but it had all the essential ingredients to rise to glory in a short span of time provided we embrace emerging and developing technologies in all fields, desist from getting involved in petty issues, focus on bigger visions and missions and work for the progress and prosperity of the country.
While addressing the seminar, the governor Punjab appreciated the FTO in resolving the grievances of the tax payers and providing timely and free of cost relief to aggrieved tax payers. He said that efforts must be made to encourage more people to pay taxes and become part of the tax-net as Pakistan had low tax-to-GDP ratio as compared to other countries.
Baligh-Ur-Rehman further said that unfriendly attitudes towards the taxpayers should be strongly discouraged and completely eliminated as they deterred the people from becoming part of the tax net.
Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah said that the FTO was providing relief to tax payers in 45 days in a cost-effective manner using its online and other modern means of communication.
The FTO said that the Federal Tax Ombudsman had provided tax-refunds to contractual employees of different government employees including PTV.
Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah informed that an unprecedented increase in the registration and resolution of tax payers’ complaints had been witnessed, adding that 5,494 complaints were received in the first 10 months of 2022 as compared to 2,414 complaints in the whole year of 2021. He highlighted that disposal rate had increased by 113% where 5117 complaints were resolved in the first 10 months of 2022.
Earlier, President Arif Alvi distributed tax-refund cheques among people whose complaints had been resolved by the FTO.