KARACHI: Director General (DG) Excise and Taxation and Narcotics Control Sindh Muneer Ahmed Zardari has said that the excise department is in the process of further upgrading its online tax payment system.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he said the system might not be ideal at present, but was much better than what it had been in the past. He added that it would improve further in the upcoming days, when taxpayers will be able to smoothly generate all their challans and submit taxes through the department’s online portal.

The excise and taxation department pays special attention to the issues being faced by the Karachi Chamber, he said, as it was this chamber whose members have been contributing a major chunk of revenue to the department.

Senior Vice President KCCI M Saqib Goodluck, Vice President KCCI Shamsul Islam Khan, chairman of KCCI’s provincial and local taxes subcommittee Tanveer Barry, former vice president Asif Sheikh Javed, KCCI’s managing committee members, and representatives of various commercial markets were also present at the meeting.

The excise department DG assured that the department was trying its best to facilitate taxpayers by focusing on expediting numerous procedures. Efforts were also being made to clear the huge backlog of vehicles’ registration number plates that have not been issued, he added.

Saqib Goodluck, while welcoming the DG, said that the excise department is the main revenue collecting agency of the government of Sindh—it collects property tax, professional tax, infrastructure cess, motor registration fee and tax, hotel tax, excise duty, cotton fee, and entertainment duty. However, taxpayers have been constantly facing issues in submitting these taxes due to cumbersome procedures and excessive documentations which have to be simplified, he said.

He mentioned that in the first eight months of FY2021, a sum of Rs62.17 billion was collected in terms of various taxes in Sindh province as compared to Rs54.483 billion collected during the preceding period. Meanwhile, the collection of withholding tax on registration and transfer of motor vehicles surged 177 percent to Rs1.72 billion during the same period as compared to the previous year’s Rs621 million.

Highlighting numerous difficulties in paying professional tax, he stressed that the department has to ensure that the online system for generating challan and form submission was constantly operational. It has been observed that taxpayers were facing immense hardships because the online option often glitched, he remarked.

Vice President KCCI Shamsul Islam Khan, in his remarks, pointed out that a large number of cases pertaining to payment of property tax had been pending due to delays in transferring properties to current owners. He said this intensifies the hardships for the public and also deprives the provinces of a substantial amount of revenue to be collected under the head of property tax.

“This is a very serious issue which requires attention, as it is a well-known fact that the property transfer procedure is deliberately delayed by relevant officers with an only intention to harass the taxpayers for gaining personal benefits,” he added.

Chairman of provincial and local taxes subcommittee Tanveer Barry also expressed deep concerns over the delay in issuance of vehicle registration number plates. He stressed that the process must be expedited, while the excise department’s online portal also has to be made efficient.

The author is a senior business reporter with bylines in leading newspapers and magazines across Pakistan.

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