News Desk |
Prime Minister Imran Khan has disclosed to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet that government has decided to extend an amnesty scheme for non-custom-paid (NCP) vehicles in all merged tribal districts, Malakand Division and Balochistan.
Just after introducing a tax amnesty scheme, an English daily reported, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to extend a similar program to the owners of smuggled vehicles in some parts of the country.
On May 18, the premier informed the cabinet that the government has decided to give amnesty scheme for NCP vehicles in tribal districts, Malakand Division, and Balochistan after KP Revenue Minister Shakil Ahmed briefed him on tax collection in the province.
In the ICA, the FBR counsel Athar Minallah, who is now IHC’s chief justice, had argued that the petitioner who had challenged the scheme was not the aggrieved party.
The minister informed the cabinet members that hundreds of thousands of smuggled vehicles were in use in Malakand Division and the former tribal districts. He recommended that the government provide a one-time amnesty scheme to their owners. It was then the premier disclosed that amnesty for NCP vehicles was on the cards.
An official of the KP finance department has revealed that more than 500,000 NCP vehicles were on the roads of Malakand alone. Another official said that the government has prepared a gradual tax collection program to improve revenue generation, but NCP vehicles remain a big stumbling block.
PPP’s Amnesty Scheme for NCP Vehicles
Before the PTI government, the Pakistan People Party (PPP) had introduced an amnesty scheme for smuggled vehicles. A month-long scheme in March 2013 had resulted in the registration of 34,000 NCP vehicles across the country. The paper reported that the scheme had generated Rs10 billion.
In January this year, the people of Balochistan urged the government to introduce an amnesty scheme for registering smuggled vehicles, saying it would help authorities concerned generate more revenue through the automobile market.
It was envisaged that the move would not only add a huge amount of cash to the national kitty but also help encourage the business community to invest in the field. An official of the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry had urged the authorities concerned to regularize this business as hundreds of thousands of people were involved in the automobile business and the national kitty was losing billions of rupees in revenue due to the ban imposed on it.
IHC Declares 2013 NCP Scheme Illegal
Islamabad High Court’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who was recently removed by the Supreme Judicial Council, had declared the scheme illegal in July 2013, an English daily reported, adding that the scheme had caused almost Rs35 billion loss to the national exchequer. “It is beyond understanding why the Amnesty Scheme was introduced for the vehicles already confiscated by the Customs authorities which could have fetched far more revenue through an open auction,” the judgment read.
Shaikh said the purpose of the scheme was not to accumulate wealth but to bring more people in the tax net and the plan was not to intimidate people but to encourage businessmen to participate in the legal economy.
The court had added that “the Amnesty Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) has not been framed for the welfare of the people rather framed by certain influentials for their own benefits and the benefit of certain privileged class.”
The judgment while quoting figures from the customs data said that 50,901 vehicles were regularized by payment of Rs15,862.27 million as duties and taxes, adding the amount could have been much more had the regular rate of duties/taxes been applied to such vehicles.
The court had directed the law enforcement authorities that all cars registered under the scheme must be seized and re-registered under the normal scheme or reverted back to pre-SRO position.
Later in November 2013, a divisional bench of IHC had suspended the single bench’s order while hearing an Intra-Court Appeal against the judgment. In the ICA, the FBR counsel Athar Minallah, who is now IHC’s chief justice, had argued that the petitioner who had challenged the scheme was not the aggrieved party.
Minallah had argued that the SRO was issued according to law, adding it was not the first scheme of this nature as the previous the government had introduced three such schemes. “Through the decision, thousands of people, who paid duties of their vehicles, have been affected as they are still deprived of the benefits of the scheme,” he had said.
Tax Amnesty Scheme
On May 14, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the tax amnesty scheme – which is meant for whitening the ill-gotten money – during a meeting of the federal cabinet. PM’s Advisor on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh said that people living in Pakistan can declare their assets after paying 4 percent tax while those living abroad can declare their assets after paying 6 percent tax to avail the Asset Declaration Scheme 2019.
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Shaikh said the purpose of the scheme was not to accumulate wealth but to bring more people in the tax net and the plan was not to intimidate people but to encourage businessmen to participate in the legal economy. The scheme will end on June 30, 2019, and there will be no extension.