Efforts for dialogue ended without success: Alvi

our correspondents
Sunday, Nov 13, 2022

By News report

LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi revealed on Saturday that he tried to find out a way for early elections via negotiations between the coalition government and the PTI.

He said that he took the initiative in a bid to defuse the soaring tensions between the two sides “but all efforts failed.”

President Alvi, while talking to journalists at the Punjab Governor House, stressed on the need for early elections.

Commenting on the ongoing political situation in the country, the president said that he was in contact with the institutions which could play an effective role in resolving the matter.

The president said that he used to make efforts to remove the differences among the institutions, adding that he wanted to keep the Federation united.

He said that the political use of NAB law was a mistake.

Responding to a question, the president said that he was making efforts to improve ties between Imran Khan and the establishment.

“Khan is my leader and old friend,” the president said, adding that he does not take the PTI chief’s advice before working.

Stressing on the need for an improvement in the working of state institutions, Alvi said, “Institutions are being used politically.”

He said that political role of the institution is wrong.

“The Constitution does not allow consultation on the appointment of army chief,” the president said, adding that still there was no harm in discussion on the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Responding to a question about the establishment’s role in politics, the president said that he could not rewrite history but could only try to make things better.

President Alvi said that all the political parties had demanded early elections at some point in time and added that even the Supreme Court had discussed the possibility of early polls to end the political deadlock. He said that matters are referred to the judiciary but no one is ready to accept its decisions.

Earlier, addressing the awareness seminar organised by the office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman at the Governor’s House, the president said the Tax Ombudsman is doing a commendable job resolving revenue disputes.

He stressed on the need for putting aside differences and moving ahead through dialogue based on national interest.

He said the number of complaints against FBR increased from 2,414 (in 2021) to 5,494 (in 2022) which shows that people’s pragmatic approach towards the Tax Ombudsman improved a lot.

He appreciated that the complaints had been addressed within 40 days instead of 60 days as prescribed under the law.

Alvi appreciated the Punjab Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman, who attended the seminar despite political differences. He commended the services of Office of Women Ombudsman in Punjab for providing relief to women. “Now under affirmative legislation, women can approach the Women Ombudsman irrespective of the status of her case in the court,” he added.

He appreciated the Tax Ombudsman for promoting the dispute resolution regime in resolving tax issues by opening one window to register and resolve the issues faced by overseas Pakistanis.

He called for a more vigorous campaign to convince citizens to register complaints against injustices done to them by tax authorities. He said people are still not approaching the Tax Ombudsman office as is evident from the registration of a mere over 5,000 complaints out of over 211 million population. The president lamented that the tax-to-GDP ratio in Pakistan is too low and urged the citizens to pay their due taxes.

Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Asif Jah briefed the president about the functions of his office. He urged the need to facilitate taxpayers by dispensing speedy and cost-effective justice to aggrieved taxpayers against the maladministration of tax officials, adding that adopting a people-friendly attitude and open-door policy by tax officials would encourage people to voluntarily become part of the tax net.

The president underlined the need to end the practice of frivolous tax litigation in cases where the cost of litigation exceeded the amount of tax involved, to save government departments’ time and resources.

He further said that taxes are essential for effectively running the governance system, adding that the business community should voluntarily comply with the tax regime whereas the tax machinery should facilitate the taxpayers to make the filing of taxes easier and reduce the cost of tax compliance.

The president said that the latest IT tools, including complaint management systems, web-based Chatbots, web portals and mobile applications could enhance the registration of taxpayers’ complaints. He urged FTO to effectively play its role in the resolution of complaints by creating an awareness about its role and services.

He appreciated the FTO for incorporating the alternative dispute resolution to mediate between the taxpayers and FBR for mutual agreement and settlement among the parties which, he said, not only provided expeditious relief to taxpayers but also reduced the cost of litigation for FBR.

He said the process of lodging the complaint by the affected should be made easier by using electronic means of communication for filing complaints and recording statements by the complainants and witnesses.