aptma-(1)Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Adil Bashir has urged the Federal government to stop FBR from harassment of taxpayers and withdraw all FIRs lodged against leading genuine and bonafide manufacturers and exporters. In a statement issued here on Saturday, he lamented that Prime Minister of Pakistan was all out to support the export-oriented sectors of Pakistan but some vested interests are bent upon frustrating the intents of the Government by harassing exporters and hindering the unprecedented growth in exports. According to him, exports from Pakistan have registered an impressive uplift over the last few months due to unflinching support by the prime minister but the pace of potential upsurge in exports may be retarted by unfriendly attitude of certain government functionaries. He said that FASTER and Weboc systems of FBR have become hub of errors and glitches, and FBR has itself repeatedly publicly admitted that FASTER system had multiple flaws, mistakes and deficiencies. He regretted that instead of correcting the system and making it more efficient, field formations of FBR have started lodging stereo typed FIRs without applying judicious mind and without an iota of evidence of malafide intention and mens rea on part of the said taxpayers. In the absence of any willful default and without mens rea which are essential ingredient of initiating criminal proceedings, FIRs are being lodged which may pollute congenial business environment created due to hard efforts by the government. He asked how it was possible that an exporter claiming refund of tens of millions of rupees would indulge in any petty malpractice by adding another few million and create problem for himself. In this regard, he particularly mentioned that Large Taxpayers Office (LTO), Lahore has recently registered FIRs against leading textile exporters in total disregard to the fact that computer system of FBR had itself erroneously uploaded input tax adjustment of sales tax twice. Mr. Bashir said FBR system had uploaded the data twice erroneously due to system error in September 2019 and there was no misdeclaration or omission on part of the taxpayers. He added that the alleged offence relate to only the month of September 2019 which establishes that it was not an individual act but result of systematic error of FBR itself. He said that initiating criminal proceedings by LTO Lahore against major reputed companies even without confronting them or issuing show-cause notices is contrary to the principles of natural justice and amounts to gross harassment of leading taxpayers. He said that it was very painful to name and shame all Directors of the mills by nominating them in the FIR without even conducting a meaningful inquiry and in the absence of any incriminating evidence. He stressed that in case any agency of FBR finds any lapse in the compliance of tax laws, it should serve proper show cause notice upon the alleged taxpayer and no criminal proceedings should be initiated against any such person unless and until the case has stood scrutiny and test of an impartial judicial forum. Mr. Adil Bashir offered the services of APTMA to FBR in conducting any meaningful inquiry against tax evaders, he added. He expressed the hope that the Federal government would take stock of the situation and issue necessary directions to FBR for immediate withdrawal of FIRs in the larger interest of the business environment in the country and fostering of exports. Meanwhile, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has said the government’s right decision of removing 5% Regulatory Duty on import of cotton yarn will accelerate value-added garment exports as the country’s exports have started showing recovery from the corona pandemic crisis, reporting a positive growth for the third consecutive month in Nov to $2.16 billion, up 7.67%. PRGMEA vice chairman Adeeb Iqbal Sheikh, referring to the recent data of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics for the first four months of the current financial year, stated that the textile and clothing export shipments are back on growth path both in terms of quantity and dollar value. He said that the increase in exports is mainly driven by sizeable growth in proceeds from value-added textile commodities. Exports in the new fiscal year started on a positive note but witnessed a steep decline of 19% in Aug 2020 before rebounding in Sept, Oct and Nov 2020. PRGMEA regional chairman hailed the efforts of Adviser to PM on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood to convince the government for accepting the genuine demand of the value-added garment sector for removal of RD. He observed the decision to exempt cotton import from RD would, of course, deprive the government of a source of revenue and have certain budgetary implications but is timely and very much needed at this juncture. He said that the garment sector in country’s local market was facing shortage of basic raw material, which might have led to a drastic decline in overall textile exports, hoping the situation will improve now after this decision. He said that with a view to promote exports of textile products, the Ministry of Commerce released Rs1.78 billion for the textiles sector under Drawback of Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL) scheme, which will resolve the liquidity issues of our exporters and enable them to enhance exports. He stressed the need for revival of SRO 1125, reintroducing the system of ‘No Payment No Refund’ of Sales Tax for the five export-oriented sectors. He said that economic scenario has totally changed due to coronavirus pandemic and its impact on industrial sector is now visible in the country, he said. So, the revival of zero rated regime was the only remedy for speedy growth in exports of the country, adding that government must announce previous system of zero-rating regime to sustain export sector of the country.