ISLAMABAD – FBR’s Inland Revenue (Operations) Member Dr Muhammad Ashfaq has said that the newly-upgraded ‘Fully Automated Sales Tax e-Refund (FASTER) Plus system’ is so expeditious and transparent that now there is no need of sales tax zero rating regime for the exporters.

While addressing a meeting of Sialkot exporters, organized by the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association, he said that the FBR is paying refunds’ claims of Rs200-250 billion to the exporters every month, as each and every exporter is enlisted in the FASTER Plus system, which is performing very well and involving no human hand.

He was accompanied by Sialkot Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue RTO Dr Tariq Mahmood. The meeting was attended by the prominent businessmen and SME representatives of industrial hub of Sialkot. Dr Muhammad Ashfaq said the new system has been providing an opportunity to the exporters to review and resubmit their claims after removing shortcomings. He said that Sialkot is the hub of SME sector which extremely needs the working capital for its smooth operations.

He, during his address, was very much in the favor of industrialization and growth of exports for the maximum employment generation in line with the vision of PM Imran Khan. “I am your focal person and available 24/7 for the industry. My doors are always open for you,” he said and added that the taxpayer doesn’t need to go to RTO on any tax notice rather the FBR officials will visit them to get the reply.”

The FBR Member reiterated the resolve of the government for expeditious payment of tax refunds and removal of all irritants in this regard. PRGMEA Central Chairman Sohail A Sheikh while addressing the meeting appreciated the member for speedy sales tax refunds claims through FASTER Plus system.

He said that in the beginning, due to some technical glitches in system, exporters faced problems like many of the cases stuck up at pre-processing stage, missing amount of refunds, no intimation about the status of refund and delays in processing of refunds but now under the new FASTER plus system things are running smoothly.

PRGMEA Chief Coordinator Ijaz Khokhar observed that FBR’s Inland Revenue Member and Sialkot RTO Chief Commissioner are easily available and accessible and we appreciate this friendly approach of them. However, he said that withdrawal of SRO 1125 has created adverse impact on exporters as the whole cash flow is stuck up for at least three months’ period till the time of shipment, calling for reviving Zero-rated regime.

Sohail A Sheikh applauded the government’s incentives and support to the apparel exporters, who succeeded in enhancing textile exports by 7.79% during July-Dec despite coronavirus related restrictions. He also pointed out that in time decision of the government to open the industrial sector played a major role in stabilising the economy in addition to keeping the jobs intact of the millions of workers.

In compliance with Prime Minister’s special instructions and under the leadership of Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, Inland Revenue Enforcement Network (IREN) is actively targeting the illicit sale and transportation of cigarettes throughout the country.

A special team of RTO Rawalpindi has seized 150 cartons of counterfeit and illicit cigarettes of various brands. The illegal cigarettes were being transported through a truck. It is estimated that sales tax and FED of Rs3,375,000 was avoided.

In other development, under the Letter of Understanding (LoU) signed between FBR and Ministry of Defenses’ Directorate of Federal Government Educational Institution Cantt Garrison, Federal Board of Revenue has started to hold second phase of Educational Awareness Sessions in different educational institutes. Facilitation and Taxpayers Education Wing (FATE) of FBR held the first Educational Awareness Session in Federal Government Sir Syed College, Rawalpindi.

In line with the vision of Prime Minister to promote the tax culture and under the directions of Chairman FBR Muhammad Javed Ghani, series of Awareness Educational Sessions will be carried out by FATE Wing in collaboration with Directorate of Federal Government Educational Institution Cantt Garrison working under Ministry of Defense in different educational institutes.

Tehmina Aamer, Chief (FATE), FBR and Principal FG Sir Syed College Professor Ahmad Raza were the Chief Guests on the occasion. Sonia Anwar, Secretary FATE delivered a very informative and easy to understand presentation to the students on the structure of tax system and its significance in nation building. The students participated in a tax related quiz and won prizes.

Tehmina Aamer, Chief FATE said in her address that the purpose of holding these sessions was to promote the tax culture. She further said that students would learn about the significance of paying taxes in their initial years through these sessions which would help them make responsible taxpayers in their later years. “The students would help spread the message of paying taxes in their home, street and locality,” she added.

Principal FG Sir Syed College thanked the FBR team to make this session successful. She hoped that such sessions would increase the knowledge of students about taxes and its significance in the economic progress. In the end, Chief FATE presented a shield to the Principal College.

Source: The Nation, February 24, 2021