NBF office faces closure for failing to pay outstanding taxes

K-P Excise Department issues notices to pay pending property dues; NBF officials warn of staging protests

Mureeb Mohmand October 25, 2017
K-P Excise Department issues notices to pay pending property dues; NBF officials warn of staging protests. PHOTO: FILE

SHABQADAR: The provincial chapter of the National Book Foundation — a constitutional body which makes books available at moderate prices — has been threatened with closure and arrest of its officials for failing to pay outstanding taxes to the provincial taxman.

The move has been decried by officials as an attempt to curb attempts to promote the culture of book reading in the province.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Excise and Taxation Departments has issued notices to National Book Foundation (NBF) offices, directing them to pay Rs9.6 million in property taxes owed to the department. The notice, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, warned that failure pay the tax by October 19 would see the department seal offices of NBF and secure arrest warrants for the concerned officials.

The receipt of notice was confirmed by NBF Peshawar Regional Director Murad Ali Mohmand. He added that they had appealed against the notice in the Peshawar registry of the Supreme Court.

He added that the foundation’s main purpose was to promote book-reading culture in war-hit K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) through their book-on-wheels project. Moreover, he said that they had also introduced a book-reading club where they provide books at 50 per cent discount to readers.

Talking about the tax notice, Mohmand said that the NBF Peshawar office had been established in 1994 on a plot measuring 12 kanals and had paid Rs2.2 million for it to the Peshawar Development Authority.  In 2010, the excise and taxation department issued notices to the NBF to pay outstanding tax on the land. However, the foundation appealed it in the Peshawar High Court. Later, it was appealed in the Supreme Court and a decision is pending.

He added that the NBF was a federal department working under cabinet secretariat and that after all major bookshops in the city shifted to the federal capital in past few years, the foundation was the sole source of books in the province.

Mohmand alleged that some officials wanted to seal the foundation in Peshawar and were thus employing tactics of sending tax notices.

The regional director added that the foundation has few funds which barely covers its day-to-day expenses.

Forking out such a large sum to the excise and taxation departments would hamper its ability to provide facilities.

Mohmand threatened that he, along with other NBF officials and book lovers, would stage a protest if the K-P government decides to take action against the foundation’s office.

Meanwhile, an excise and taxation official told The Express Tribune that no one was exempted from paying property tax, whether it was an institution owned and run by the federal or the provincial government.

He added that the NBF has not paid its taxes for the past seven years. However, he hastened to add that the department was ready to resolve the issue through mutual consultation.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2017.


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