Pakistan to coordinate with UAE, Europe to curb under-invoicing, tax evasion

Pakistani men walk in front of the income tax building in Karachi, 05 April 2005. (AFP)
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Updated 31 January 2020

Pakistan to coordinate with UAE, Europe to curb under-invoicing, tax evasion

  • The project will make it ‘almost impossible’ for importers to alter invoices, say FBR officials
  • Importers welcome the move, saying it will boost economy and increase tax collection

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to establish electronic data interfaces with different countries including the United Arab Emirates, European states, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Singapore to curb under-invoicing and tax evasion, officials said on Thursday.
The government has been struggling to combat incorrect declaration and under-assessment of goods by importers to evade customs duty. Importers usually change invoices in the connivance with government officials to pay minimal taxes while clearing their consignments from ports.
“The under-invoicing and tax evasion by importers run into millions of rupees annually and we want to curb it by coordinating other countries,” Dr. Hamid Ateeq Sarwar, Member Inland Revenue Policy at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), told Arab News.
Elaborating the plan, he said the electronic data interface with Afghanistan will be established by February this year and the project will then be extended to other countries as well in different phases.
“We don’t expect much to gain from Afghanistan as they don’t have the capacity to handle the imports and exports, but at least we will be able to find difference in invoices of importers if any of them attempts to alter them,” he said.
Sarwar said the FBR was planning to complete the project with the UAE, European countries and Singapore by June this year. “Once we are connected with the electronic data interface of a country, it will be almost impossible for importers to alter their invoices,” he said.
The cash-strapped South Asian nation has been struggling to increase its tax revenues by combating smuggling and under-invoicing by importers.
The country has suffered an economic loss of around $11 billion in terms of customs duties and withholding tax during 1972 to 2013 as the under-invoicing was recorded to be around $92.7 billion during the period, according to Mukarram Jah Ansari who is director-general valuation at the FBR.
Pakistan has been working closely with the World Customs Organization, an intergovernmental body headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, to sign agreements with other countries for electronic data interchange.
“We have been receiving very encouraging response from all the countries … numerous international organizations have been helping us to reform our tax system,” Sarwar said. “In today’s age, all the countries have open economies and it is in their interest as well to sign such mutual pacts.”
On the other hand, importers and businessmen have welcomed the move, hoping it will help discourage smuggling of the goods and boost genuine imports and business in the country.
“Once the smuggling and under-invoicing of the imported goods is stopped effectively, we will witness a competition among genuine importers which will boost the economy and increase revenue collection,” Anjum Nisar, chairman Pakistan Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Importers’ Association, told Arab News.


Russia, China, Pakistan willing to provide Afghanistan with aid, Moscow says

Updated 19 October 2021

Russia, China, Pakistan willing to provide Afghanistan with aid, Moscow says

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now
  • The United States did not join this round of talks in Moscow but said it planned to do so in the future

MOSCOW: Russia, China and Pakistan are willing to provide aid to Afghanistan, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday, but Moscow said it was not yet ready to recognize the Taliban government.
The promise of humanitarian aid and economic support came after talks between Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials, who will be joined by representatives of Afghanistan’s Islamist rulers at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was withholding recognition from the Taliban while waiting for them to fulfil promises they made when they took power, including on the political and ethnic inclusivity of the new government.
Critics say the former rebel movement is backtracking on pledges not to sideline women and minorities, or persecute foes.
“Official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now,” Lavrov told reporters. “Like most of other influential countries in the region, we are in contact with them. We are prodding them to fulfil the promises they made when they came to power.”
RUSSIA SEEKS LEADERSHIP
In mid-August, the Afghan government collapsed as the United States and allies withdrew troops after 20 years on the ground, leading the Taliban to seize power in a lightning offensive.
Russia, which fought its own disastrous war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, is trying to seize the diplomatic initiative to avoid instability in the wider region that could damage its interests.
In particular it is worried by the possibility of Islamist militants seeping into the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, a region Moscow views as a defensive buffer.
Other Russian officials have tempered expectations for Wednesday’s talks. The United States said it would not join this round but planned to do so in the future.
Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, said last week he did not expect any major breakthrough at the talks.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described them as “an attempt to know what will happen in Afghanistan going forward.”


Pakistan, Iran discuss situation in Afghanistan, call for 'close coordination'

Updated 19 October 2021

Pakistan, Iran discuss situation in Afghanistan, call for 'close coordination'

  • The Pakistani foreign minister says sustained international engagement is essential to address the situation in Afghanistan
  • The Iranian FM says Tehran fully supports Pakistan’s initiative for a regional approach on the war-battered country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi emphasized “close coordination” among Afghanistan’s neighboring states to ensure greater peace and stability in the region during a phone call with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday.
According to the foreign office of Pakistan, Qureshi received a call from the Iranian foreign minister Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian who invited the Pakistan to participate in the second ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan which is scheduled to be held in Tehran next week.
The Iranian official discussed the overall regional security situation during the conversation while pointing out that Tehran fully supported Pakistan’s initiative for a regional approach on Afghanistan.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked his Iranian counterpart for the invitation and expressed the hope that the meeting would impart further impetus to the regional approach on the situation in Afghanistan,” the foreign office said in a statement. “He emphasized that close coordination was essential to help Afghanistan on path to peace, stability and development.”
Qureshi emphasized that sustained international engagement was essential in view of the evolving economic situation in Afghanistan.
“He expressed the hope that international community would ramp up provision of humanitarian assistance on urgent basis, in view of the upcoming winter season, and take steps to ensure economic stability in the country,” the statement added.
The first ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries was held in September after Pakistan urged China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to come together and discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The ministerial meeting was also preceded by a virtual meeting of the special representatives and envoys of the six neighboring states for Afghanistan.


Like rest of Pakistan, social media too lights up in Mawlid Al-Nabi colours

Updated 19 October 2021

Like rest of Pakistan, social media too lights up in Mawlid Al-Nabi colours

  • Several Pakistani social media users shared photos of the country’s bright decor to mark the occasion
  • The day began with 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salute across provincial capitals

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Tuesday celebrated Mawlid Al-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), with cities around the country lit up with beautiful colors.
The day began with 31-gun salute in the federal capital, Islamabad, and 21-gun salute across the provincial capitals.
The Prophet’s birth anniversary is observed with great religious zeal on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan requested the nation to celebrate the occasion this year like “never before” in a video message shared across his official social media accounts on October 16, 2021.

President Arif Alvi also maintained it was imperative for Muslims to follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) since it was “the key to their success” in this world and the hereafter.
“The only solution to all the challenges facing the Muslim ummah, including anarchy, hypocrisy, oppression and injustice, can be found in the life of the Prophet (PBUH),” he said.


Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Geoffrey Shaw shared on his official Twitter account that his local friends had sent him sweet rice, a traditional dish people serve while observing Mawlid Al-Nabi.

 


The country’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party shared a shot of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence decked out to mark the occasion.

 

 

 


A Twitter user from Rawalpindi shared a number of images, showing bright lights in mosques, market and alleyways.

 

 

 

 

 


Journalist Ali Tanoli shared images of Islamabad from the night before, showing landmarks like Faisal Mosque and Bari Imam lit up.

 

 


Twitter user Syed Hashir Shah shared photos of lights hanging above bustling markets in Karachi, Pakistan.

 

 

 


Journalist Waseem Abbasi posted the photo of Pakistan’s largest Rabi Al-Awwal cake ordered by the authorities in the federal capital on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

 

 


Discover Pakistan TV, the country’s first tourism-dedicated outlet, also shared colorful shots from across the country.

 

 

 

 


PM Khan promises rule of law as nation celebrates Mawlid Al-Nabi

Updated 19 October 2021

PM Khan promises rule of law as nation celebrates Mawlid Al-Nabi

  • Says will strive to create welfare state in following the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
  • Birthday of Prophet (PBUH) is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal by Muslims all over the world

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday his government wanted to establish the rule of law in the country by following the principles established by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which required a state to hold its powerful citizens accountable for their misdeeds as well.
Khan made the comment while addressing a national conference in Islamabad as people across the country celebrated Mawlid Al-Nabi – or the birth anniversary of the Prophet (PBUH) – with traditional religious fervor.
The Prophet’s birth anniversary is observed on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar, by Muslims all over the world.
The prime minister emphasized in his speech no society could progress without maintaining equal standards of justice for everyone.
“The central pillars of the State of Madinah established by our Prophet (PBUH) were morality and rule of law,” he noted. “A welfare state always looks after its people irrespective of their status. We will have to make the powerful abide by the laws of this country. Otherwise, we will not be able to fix the system.”
He said a leader should be honest and trustworthy, adding that the two qualities were also quite prominent in the Prophet’s own personality.
Khan reiterated he was striving to implement in his country the political ideals that were central to the State of Madinah.
“I will keep on fighting for the rule of law in the country until my last breath,” he continued. “We have to bring the powerful within the ambit of the rule of law.”
The prime minister said his government had formed a special authority to apprise the people about the life and teachings of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH).
“Children have access to all types of information through mobile phones these days,” he said. “The challenge is to show them the right path and direction. The newly established authority will provide guidance to our youth by showing them different aspects of the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
He added the objective of setting up an Islamic welfare state that followed the principles of the State of Madinah had been there in his party’s manifesto for 25 years.
“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave women right to property which they did not have it before,” he said. “The State of Madinah also introduced the concept of providing pension to older people.”
Earlier, while addressing the first session of the conference, President Dr. Arif Alvi emphasized the need for promoting unity among Muslims in the light of the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH).
“The last Prophet preached not to spread discord and said that Muslims were united like a single body,” Alvi said, adding that the revolution that emerged from the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah had truly transformed the world.
“I have a firm belief that change in Pakistan and the Muslim world will once again come from the mosque which holds special significance in the character building of a nation,” he maintained.
A special documentary on the life of the Prophet (PBUH) was also screened at the conference.


Pakistan navy says ‘blocked’ Indian submarine from entering its waters last week

Updated 19 October 2021

Pakistan navy says ‘blocked’ Indian submarine from entering its waters last week

  • The Indian submarine was detected on October 16, Pakistan navy said in a press release
  • Says this was third such incident in recent years, reflects Pakistan’s resolve to defend maritime frontiers 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani navy detected an Indian submarine off the Pakistani coast and prevented it from entering its waters last week, it said on Tuesday.
The submarine was detected on October 16, the navy said in a press release.
“During the prevailing security milieu, a strict monitoring watch has been kept by Pakistan Navy to safeguard maritime frontiers of Pakistan,” the navy said. “It is the third incident of its kind wherein, an Indian Naval Submarine has been prematurely detected and tracked by PN Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.”

Aerial image captured by a Pakistani military patrol aircraft on October 16, 2021 of Indian submarine attempting to enter Pakistani waters  - ISPR (Pakistan Army) 

The recent incident was an example, the navy said, of Pakistan’s resolve “to defend maritime frontiers of the Motherland.”

Relations between longtime rivals Pakistan and India have been particularly strained in the last two years, particularly since 2019 when India withdrew Indian-administered Kashmir’s autonomy in order to tighten its grip over the territory, sparking outrage in Pakistan, the downgrading of diplomatic ties and a suspension of bilateral trade.
Kashmir lies at the heart of the tension. The countries, who both claim it in full but rule it in part, have fought two of their three wars over the region since partition and independence from Britain in 1947.