PAC wants FIR against four directors of telecom firm
By Khawar Ghumman
ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly asked the Federal Board of Revenue on Wednesday to lodge an FIR against four directors of a private telecommunication company found to have been involved in Rs140 million tax evasion.
The committee also suspended a senior FBR official who had allegedly sanctioned inadmissible refund of sales tax to Dancom (Pvt) Ltd in violation of rules.
According to audit officials, Nadir Khan Hoti, who was collector of federal excise Islamabad in 2005, had authorised an illegal remission of sales tax of Rs140 million to Dancom. The issue was taken up by the PAC in October last year. The committee ordered immediate suspension of Mr Hoti and set up a sub-committee headed by Zahid Hamid to investigate the matter.
But without waiting for the findings of the sub-committee, Finance Secretary Salman Siddique misquoted PAC Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and sent a summary to the prime minister for reinstatement of Mr Hoti.
“It was mind-boggling for me when I was told that Mr Hoti has been reinstated following my telephonic conversations with the finance secretary,” Mr Nisar clarified on Wednesday. “I also intend to summon Mr Siddique for explanation. How could he misquote his telephonic conversations with me to exonerate Mr Hoti?” he asked.
Chaudhry Nisar informed the FBR that he had discussed the matter with the prime minister and Mr Hoti immediately stood suspended as per PAC’s earlier decision.
When FBR Chairman Sohail Ahmad contended that Mr Hoti was innocent, Chaudhry Nisar said: “Although it is crystal clear that the officer displayed indecent post-haste in awarding the unlawful tax remission, the committee gives you another opportunity to prove him innocent within next week.”
When Nadeem Afzal Chan of the PPP argued that the committee was spending too much time on the issue, the PAC chairman said the committee wanted to ensure that in future people did not commit such malpractices.
Pakistan Telecommunications Authority Chairman Dr Mohammad Yasin, who attended the meeting, said Dancom owed Rs1.2 billion to the authority, but the case was currently in the Supreme Court and, therefore, subjudice.
The committee asked Dr Yasin to approach the attorney general and prime minister’s adviser on telecommunications to resolve the issue and, if need arose, cancel the licence of Dancom, one of the long distance international (LDI) licence-holders in Pakistan.
The PAC wrote to the Privatisation Board to remove Laeeq Sheikh, one of the directors of Dancom, for being a defaulter. It also asked the Capital Development Authority (CDA) not to allow transaction of a property owned by wife of Dancom chairman Mohammad Luqman till the company cleared dues of the government.
About the World Call Communication, formerly owned by Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, which owed Rs133.900 million to the government, the PAC recommended necessary actions to recover the amount.
About two other defaulting companies, Global Telecom and Union Communications, which owe Rs59.66 million and Rs3.66 million, respectively, to the government, the committee asked FBR and PTA officials to try to recover the money.