NAB empowered to investigate people availing tax amnesty schemes

The News

KARACHI: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has power under a law to initiate probe against individuals who have availed any tax amnesty, a top official said on Thursday, as the government has planned yet another scheme to give people an opportunity to declare their untaxed offshore assets.
“Previously, amnesties have been announced to give immunity from tax evasions,” Altaf Bawany, director general of NAB Karachi said. “However, the law allows the bureau to probe into funds obtained through criminal (activities) and drugs (peddling).”
While talking to the office bearers of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Bawany said NAB could conduct investigation even after an individual avails an amnesty. But, he didn’t mention how many investigations had the bureau initiated against people who availed at least three amnesty schemes announced during the tenure of the present government.
Under the proposed tax amnesty scheme expected next week, Pakistan’s expatriates or locals who have assets in foreign country would be able to declare their holdings against two percent tax payment if they agree to bring them back or four percent in case they opt for keeping them abroad.
NAB chief said individuals who avail the money whitening schemes are the ‘bull’s-eye’ for the bureau.
Highlighting the NAB performance in Karachi region, he said around 400 cases are under investigation. “NAB Karachi recovered Rs30 billion since its establishment in 1999.”
Bawany said recovery from defaulted loans amounting to Rs100 billion is not included as NAB Karachi’s recovery. Collective efforts of NAB across the country resulted in generating Rs280 billion.
The bureau chief rejected a misconception about plea bargain option for return of money derived through corrupt practices.
“The plea bargain offers return of actual money with additional amount of gains,” he said. “People accept this offer in order to avoid jail-term.”
Bawany said corrupt practices increase the cost of doing business. A NAB study revealed that corrupt practices increase cost of doing business by 20 percent in the country. Under the law, NAB is only allowed to take action against individual accepting bribe. “But the law is silent on person who offers bribe,” he added.
DG NAB rejected an argument of business community that government servants involve in corrupt practices due to lower salaries. People join government services only after agreeing to salary and other perks, he said.
Bawany urged business community not to give money to government officials to resolve their issues. On sales tax refund cases, he said fake invoices are illegal and transactions on such invoices for obtaining refunds are fraud.
Siraj Kassem Teli, ex-president of KCCI said the government planned another tax amnesty for illegal foreign assets. Teli said politicians, bureaucrats, army personnel and business community all avail amnesty schemes.
KCCI’s former president said business community is targeted for sending tax evaded money abroad, adding but that money is earned through legal means.

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