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The Facilitation and Taxpayers Education (FATE) wing of the Federal Board of Revenue arranged a Taxpayers’ Interaction Seminar in to have an interactive dialogue between the FBR and representatives of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Chambers of Commerce & Trade, Tax bars and members of the business community, at the ICAP Auditorium here today. It was the first of a series of interactive seminars to be held in major cities including Lahore and Karachi.
The seminar was chaired by Chairman FBR, Mr. Salman Siddique and was also attended by top officials of the Federal Board of Revenue as well as Chief Economist USAID Mr. Thomas Morris, CEO Competitiveness Support Fund Mr. Shahab Khawaja and consultants of CSF Mr. Abdullah Yousuf and Mr. Habib Fakhruddin, among others.
Addressing the seminar, the Chairman FBR welcomed the participants and said that this seminar is a great initiative taken by the FATE Wing under the Outreach plan assigned by the Federal Minister for Finance to have an interactive session between the top management of FBR and the presidents and representatives of Rawalpindi Islamabad Chambers of Commerce & Trade, Tax bars and representatives of other trade associations. He said that this kind of interaction is crucial to know and understand one another’s point of view and thus evolving a better tax system with mutual collaboration.
Stressing the core function of the FBR to facilitate and help the taxpayers’ Mr. Salman Siddique stressed the need to bring the Taxpayers and FBR closer and to remove the misunderstandings, if any, to build a stronger relationship.
He stressed the need to increase the Tax-to-GDP ratio to increase revenue collection for nation building and development. “I believe that everyone with an income above the exemption level should be taxed”. He stressed the need of capacity building of the federal, provincial and local tax machinery for better revenue collection system.
The Chairman FBR also underlined the importance of these interactive sessions stating that these facilitation efforts of FBR should also be considered as the start of consultative process for general and specific suggestions and also asked the Chambers to give their written proposal to FBR for the next finance bill.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Abdullah Yousuf said that private sector should also come forward and create its own think tanks to provide the necessary research input for putting forward concrete proposals. He said that private sector should support the government’s policies if these are backed by solid research.
He welcomed the initiative by the FATE Wing and encouraged the taxpayers to not lose this opportunity of registering their issues and to come up with solid suggestions regarding next budget. He also appreciated the performance of the FATE wing to facilitate the taxpayers.
He said that with the introduction of automation in the tax system, all tax information should be gathered electronically so that a data warehouse can be established to cross reference the data.
A detailed presentation on the working of the FATE Wing and its initiatives for facilitation and education of the taxpayers was given to explain the e-services, including the FBR’s website and FATE helpline as well as the future initiatives undertaken by the Wing to achieve the organizational objectives.
The presentation was followed by a detailed Questions & Answers session in which the stakeholders pointed out their issues.
Senior Vice President of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry Mr. Raja Amer Iqbal appreciated the seminar and said that he felt encouraged that taxpayers’ views are included in the process. He highlighted the problems faced by the taxpayers and put forward suggestions for rejuvenation of economy and better revenue generation and collection.
President Tax Bar Association Mr. Shaukat Baloch highlighted the issues in filing of returns faced by the tax bar and gave suggestions to rectify those.
The Chairman FBR thanked the audience for their quality input and said that all these points of concern would be addressed after proper consultation with the relevant officials so as to resolve these issues, once and for all.
The seminar was concluded by a vote of thanks by the Member FATE, FBR, Mrs. Riffat Shaheen Qazi. She said that this is the first of a series of seminars to be arranged by the FATE Wing. Such seminars would be arranged all over the country in the coming months. She thanked the stakeholders for actively participating in the discussion and said that this input by them would greatly help towards fine-tuning the system. She also hoped that this process would continue in the future.