KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday admitted that a Rs40 million fraud in motor vehicle tax collection had been detected at National Bank of Pakistan branches in which some officials of the excise and taxation ministry were involved.
Responding to a question asked by Kamran Akhtar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Minister for Excise and Taxation Mukesh Kumar Chawla said during the Question Hour in the Sindh Assembly that after the detection of the fraud an inquiry committee was constituted on Nov 5, 2009, which submitted its report on Feb 25, 2010.
In light of the recommendations of the committee, said the minister, “action was taken against 24 officials of the excise and taxation ministry and their services were suspended on April 26, 2010”.
In the meantime, he added, a case was registered in the Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment and after examining the matter, 13 officials were cleared on Oct 19, 2012. They were reinstated in the department on Dec 14, 2012.
“However, the Anti-Corruption Establishment had reported that the charges were proved against five officials only and the matter was being prosecuted in the court of law.”
The five officials, the house was informed, included a head cashier of the excise and taxation ministry and four junior clerks.
Regarding a future strategy to stop such offences, said the minister, “proper computerised monitoring system has also been introduced to prevent such incidents in future”.
Answering a question asked by MQM’s Naila Munir, Mr Chawla said professional tax was being collected from all people engaged in any employment and assessed to income tax in the proceeding financial year at Rs150 per employee per year as prescribed in the 7th Schedule of the Sindh Finance Act, 1964.
Giving reasons for the collection of that tax, he said Article 163 of the Constitution authorised the provincial assembly to levy it.
In reply to another question asked by the same lawmaker, the provincial minister said the government was collecting three taxes from welfare organisations property and motor vehicle taxes and infrastructure cess.
He said in most cases, the welfare organisations claimed exemption under the relevant act or rules, which was considered on merit on a case-to-case basis by the competent authority on their requests.
However, he added, the welfare organisations did not pay professional tax, excise duty, entertainment duty and cotton fee.
MQM’s Sumeta Afzal Syed asked whether it was a fact that the scheme of computerisation of property tax in Sindh approved in 2005 had not been completed yet. The minister said the scheme was approved by the provincial development working party in 2005 for computerisation of record of property tax in Sindh and funds were released in April 2009 and accordingly the work was started. He said the scheme got completed in 2014 wherein the data of property tax units had been computerised and challans for payments of the tax had been generated through computerised system since July 2014.
Responding to another question of Naila Munir, Mr Chawla said 1,242,231 private vehicles (cars) were registered in Karachi up to June 2016.
With regard to unregistered cars, asked by Heer Soho in another question, he said traffic police or home ministry would be in a better position to reply as his ministry was responsible for registration of vehicles only. He, however, said his ministry launched a campaign across the province on a quarterly basis against motor vehicle tax defaulters.
He said 21,717 vehicles of above 1,600cc were registered from 2011 to 2013 in Karachi; 448 in Hyderabad and 202 in Sukkur district — 22,367 in total. No such vehicles were registered in the rest of the province.
Replying to another question, the minister said the sale and usage of ‘pan parag’ and ‘gutka’ did not fall in the ambit of his ministry. He said it was in the jurisdiction of the Custom authorities and local police, thus, the provincial home ministry was in a better position to answer.
He said the excise and taxation authorities intended to extend payment facilities with more branches of the NBP across the province to facilitate payment for motor vehicle tax. He said apart from 10 branches of the NBP already collecting motor vehicle tax in Karachi, five more branches had been authorised to do the same. They were in Clifton Block-2, North Karachi, Nadir House, Orangi, and Gulshan-i-Hadeed.
Besides, he said, the ministry was trying to establish four booths for collection of the tax at the Board of Revenue facilitation centres at Karachi Central, East and West DC offices, and the Malir AC’s airport office.
courtesy : dawn news