The Standing Committee of National Assembly on Information Technology on Tuesday grilled Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) for their ignorance to Rs 47 billion tax evasion by five telecom companies of the country.
Committee met under the chairmanship of MNA Barjis Tahir expressed disappointment over the non-preparedness of both the departments to play their role in this alleged scam and fix the responsibility. The Committee directed the concerned departments to furnish the report about the tax evasion of Rs 47 billion as to know the true fact in this matter.
Committee members showed concern over the absence of minister in IT Ministry. The technology revolution is knocking at the door of the country and our ministry is being run without any minister, Anusha Rahman Khan said.
Committee requested Prime Minister to allocate the portfolio of federal minister to make the ministry fully functional.
Because of involvement huge sum of money, committee felt the need to call in tax related persons in its next meeting and directed the secretary IT, chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), concerned officer from Law Department to ensure their presence in next meeting on August 7, 2012.
Barjis Tahir showed his concern over the failure of the government departments to satisfy the members and one member of the Committee Sardar Shafqat Hayat Baloch suggested either PTA should be abolished or Ministry of IT be dissolved or to merge both as there was a clear lack of coordination between the two authorities. Committee also directed the IT Ministry and PTA to furnish all correspondence record of mobile operators between ITA and PTA from 2006 to 2011.
Members of the committee particularly expressed concern on over-burdening of taxation on consumers. PML-N Anusha Rahman Khan said Rs 47 billion was not a small amount that has been allegedly evaded.
However, she regretted mobile operators went to the court but ministry concerned remained silent. MNA Perveen Masood Bhatti demanded details should be collected about the amount spent on advertisement by these companies. During the meeting the representatives of mobile companies gave presentation regarding the procedure of tax payment to FBR. Committee observed higher authorities should fix the responsibility who contributed into the alleged tax evasion.
In their presentation, the cellular companies’ representatives told the Committee this sector contributes Rs 28.6 billion income tax in national exchequer annually whereas Rs 48 billion on account of Federal Excise Duty, by bringing the total contribution to national kitty at Rs 120 billion per annum. They said companies have written a detailed letter to Prime Minister to save the cellular sector from unjustified interference and excesses by National Accountability Bureau, which has taken up this issue.