In a significant development in the case of Rs47 billion allegedly evaded in taxes by the five telecom companies operating in the country, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has recommended the names of three senior officials of Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).
As per an official handout issued by NAB, the names of former FBR chairman Mumtaz Haider Rizvi, Inland Revenue Member Shahid Hussain Asad, and Chief of Sales Tax/Federal Excise Duty Abdul Sattar Aora, have been forwarded to the Ministry of Interior to be put on the ECL.
The Rs47 billion includes a principal amount of Rs26 billion owed by five cellular service providers since 2007. FBR tax auditors had pointed out the discrepancy in 2010. The cellular companies in question had approached the office of the Commissioner Inland Revenue (CIR) on the matter, which had directed them to pay the tax. Following this, they went to the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue. The tribunal upheld the CIR’s decision and again directed the cellular service providers to deposit the tax.
The companies, however, had remained adamant not to pay the amount. They told the chief commissioner of the Large Tax Unit they were ready to pay interconnect charges applicable from July this year, provided the FBR waives off past liabilities worth Rs47 billion.
On July 4, 2012, NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari took suo motu notice of the matter and summoned the FBR chairman to appear in person to explain details about the defaulted amount.
FBR Chairman Mumtaz Haider Rizvi was interrogated for over two hours at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) headquarters on July 6, and was allowed to leave the premises only after he agreed not to issue a notification to write off the outstanding amount.
“The FBR chairman tried to convince FBR officials that the waiver is in line with the law and said he intended to grant it the very next day. However, he had to retreat once he was confronted with relevant evidence and supporting documents,” the head of the bureau’s media wing, Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, had told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.