KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry Junaid Esmail Makda, while hailing Prime Minister’s remarks about reforming the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), said that the business and industrial community highly appreciates PM’s resolve to reform the FBR and also welcomes his warning to create a new tax collection authority if FBR fails to end harassment and corruption which was a good idea. Unabated corrections must continue at the FBR without any stoppage in order to make it taxpayers friendly. “Either in the existing or the new FBR, there is a dire need to create trust while corruption has to be completely eradicated by immediately expelling the corrupt FBR officials which would help in dealing with the trust deficit and encourage people to come forward to pay their taxes without any kind of fear of harassment”, he advised in a statement issued on Friday. He pointed out that massive corruption of up to Rs500 billion at FBR was claimed some two to three years ago by the then Ministers who assured to strictly deal with the same but unfortunately not a single step was taken against the element responsible for such a massive corruption. “It is heartening to see that the present government has given a clear warning to get rid of FBR if it fails to improve as they are also well-cognizant of the miseries being suffered by loyal taxpayers due to massive wrongdoings and unbridled corruption”, he added. He stressed that in order to achieve the desired objectives, the decision makers in Islamabad will have to take practical steps to end the harassment and arm-twisting tactics being used by FBR officials to gain personal benefits only while the honest officials must be promoted and brought forward at the helm of the affairs. Junaid Makda was of the opinion that the taxation laws also need to be reviewed in consultation with all the stakeholders as massive discretionary powers have been conferred to FBR officials even at the lower level which are being used as tool for arm-twisting and squeezing the existing taxpayers. The existing FBR and even any new FBR in future will not be able to generate the desired revenue and provide relief to loyal taxpayers until the government revisits all taxation laws and subsides the draconian discretionary powers. He also underscored the need to simplify the cumbersome taxation procedures so that maximum number of individuals could be encouraged to pay their taxes while the tax collection authority must be directed to strictly take action against tax evaders instead of overburdening and further squeezing the existing taxpayers. Appreciating Prime Minister’s positive response on Asset Declaration Scheme and the business community’s apprehensions over last Amnesty Scheme, he said that it was assured that all details of the individuals availing Amnesty Scheme 2018 will be kept confidential but it was not done and more and above, they were asked to submit a very complex and detailed wealth form which was later used by FBR and FIA to harass the beneficiaries of amnesty scheme so it must not be repeated in the new Asset Declaration Scheme which must ensure that the secrecy of beneficiaries’ data has to be maintained while the wealth form must also be simplified with limited details to encourage maximum number of individuals to declare their assets. As 97 percent of last year’s amnesty scheme was availed by Karachi-based individuals, the government will have to devise effective strategies so that individuals from every nook and corner of the country could avail this year’s Asset Declaration Scheme which would help in documenting the economy, encourage growth and bring thousands of individuals into the tax net, he added. While extending full support and cooperation to the government in improving the tax collection system, President KCCI hoped that the government would continue to keep reforms at the FBR on top of its agenda until a taxpayers friendly and trustworthy environment is created which is badly needed in order to make Pakistan self-reliant with zero dependence on foreign aids and loans.