KARACHI: Importers are resisting the government’s decision to submit computerised national identity card (CNIC) numbers, along with complete and accurate particulars of unregistered persons, in case of supplying goods to such individuals.
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Junaid Esmail Makda, while referring to the legislation being implemented through the Finance Bill 2019-20, said Karachi-based importers have requested the government to defer this legislation for a period of at least three months.
He said during this period they could offload their existing stocks and subsequently, either pack their businesses up or continue their activities by confining themselves to registered persons only.
According to the legislation, importers will collect CNIC numbers of wholesalers and individuals, who do not hold a national tax number (NTN)
In a statement issued, Makda advocated that the importers were rightly demanding three-month relaxation so that during the said time period, they could sell their existing stocks and then either reduce imports as per the provision in the new Finance Bill 2019 or completely pack up their businesses.
He said the business community can neither force unregistered persons to get them registered nor can it collect CNICs on behalf of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Although the government’s intentions are positive to bring non-taxpayers into the tax net, it is burdening legitimate businessmen a lot.
These disproportionate restrictions on legitimate businesses, along with the taxes the government has proposed in this budget, will result in adverse effects, the KCCI president remarked.
The government’s decisions are incentivising smuggling in the country, he said. Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) is a safe way for smugglers.
“Smugglers offer us to bring desired goods at our doorsteps,” Makda said, adding, “The government thinks smugglers have forgotten their peculiar ways of dodging the government.”
“We are working on a proposal for legislation, through which the government can stop smuggling,” said Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Chairman Zubair Motiwala. But this alone cannot stop smuggling, if the government is not ready to rationalise taxes in the country, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2019.