Media Non Governmental Organisation rebuts tirade by Public Accounts Committee chairman
ISLAMABAD: The Centre for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan (CIRP), the newly formed body which has exposed parliamentarians for evading taxes, has issued a stinging rejoinder to Chairman Public Accounts Committee, Nadeem Afzal Chan, for his ‘unnecessary criticism’ of its effort.
In an open letter sent by journalist Umar Cheema, the PAC chairman has been advised to read the message carried in the report about tax evasion by MPs instead of shooting the messenger.
Chan, who was reminded that he only paid Rs9,034 income tax in 2011, filed his return manually and not electronically as requred by law and also did not respond to the letter sent by the CIRC requesting his tax details.
Cheema reminded Chan that the FBR had advertised in the media in the following words: “For persons with salary income above Rs500,000 and all companies, it is mandatory to submit tax returns online at http://e.fbr.gov.pk”.
This is in accordance with section 115(1) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, which says where salary/other income for the Tax Year is Rs500,000 or more, the taxpayer shall file return of income electronically in the prescribed form and it shall be accompanied by the proof of deduction of payment of tax and wealth statement.
The letter also stated that Chan had not included his income either from the fuel station “Chan Petroleum” or the salary from National Assembly being an MNA.
The CIRC letter said it appeared that Chan had started considering himself as the key man standing in defence of the tax-dodgers. “You spare no opportunity to blast the tax report in and outside the National Assembly. But please mind your position as Chairman Public Accounts Committee. You preside the meetings that hold all the departments accountable. Defending colleagues on the wrong grounds does not suit a person of your status. You have also been heard demanding the taxes of generals and bureaucrats. Are they out of your jurisdiction? If ‘yes’ name any general and bureaucrat whose tax return you demanded but was not given by the FBR.”
The letter also reminded Chan that the PAC could not dare to open the sealed envelope containing tax details of former General Pervez Musharraf in 2010 that the FBR sent in compliance with your directives.
The letter said the CIRP was all about the media. “You have also alleged that the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) was providing tax data to the CIRP, not knowing that FTO is not keeper of this record. You are investing energy on shooting the messenger instead of reading the message.”