The Friends of Business and Economic Reforms (FEBR) on Sunday appealed to the Prime Minister for the grant of extension in date for income tax returns for the tax year 2020. FEBR President Kashif Anwar said that PM Imran khan himself should take notice of the grave situation, as FBR’s last date for filing income tax returns has expired on Dec 08, 2020 while the taxpayers want some relaxation in the deadline in view of only 1.67 million income tax returns, which fell short of even last year’s figure by nearly 1.3 million. “It is beyond understanding that despite a massive reduction in the number of income tax return filers for tax year 2020, the FBR has taken the stance that it will not grant any further extension in the last date for filing returns in spite of that taxpayers are facing difficulties of calculation errors on the IRIS portal, besides the working environment is not friendly due to the spread of coronavirus,” he added. FEBR President urged PM Imran Khan, PM Advisor on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and FBR Chairman Javed Ghani to extend the deadline for filing Annual Income Tax Returns from Dec 08 2020 to March 2021 until the corona pandemic eases. Kashif Anwar said that a large number of business community members have not been able to file their tax returns, mainly due to the effects of COVID-19 on the whole of the working environment. He further added that the second wave, which is more severe and requires strict observation of SoPs, has also significantly disturbed business activities all over the country. Furthermore, he added that the recent surge in COVID-19 has slowed down the usual economic and commercial activities. He said there are also some discrepancies, currently faced by the filers, in the filing of Income Tax Return when a taxpayer is requested to file two types of returns relating to partnerships/importers and suppliers. He said that till the expiry of the deadline only 1.67 million taxpayers submitted annual returns for tax year 2020 while in tax year 2019, the FBR had received a total of 2.96 million income tax returns. There was a reduction of 43% or 1.29 million in the number of return filers, which should be a matter of grave concern for Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said that the government had promised to double the tax collection figure to Rs.8 trillion, which seems impossible looking at the number of the first two years in power. Progress on sugar report Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) urged the departments to expedite their progress in the preview of sugar commission report, as first time government made public such type of report to address the irregularities at large scale. The PBF Vice President and FPCCI Former Chairman Standing Committee on Agriculture, Ahmad Jawad said sugar cane farmers are also eager of their stuck payments before sugar mills which is in billions in the light of sugar commission report. Jawad said the provincial governments to remove the sugar mills illegally installed in cotton areas and restore the cotton belt as per crop zones. They also called for removing the illegal enhanced capacity of sugar mills and return them to original and approved capacity. The amount paid less to sugarcane growers in 2017-18 as well in 2019 and proved by the commission report may be recovered from the identified mills and returned to sugarcane growers, immediately. The sugarcane prices paid to farmers in 2017-18 are far less than the documents of the mills showing, as that was paid to middle man, not to farmer. A farmer was getting Rs. 120 to 130 per 40kg of sugarcane, with a 5-10% reduction in weight in the name of unclean cane and trash, so the actual price a farmer had received in 2017-18 would be Rs. 90-100 per 40 kg. In 2017-18 sugar mills paid Rs. 130 billion less than indicative price to sugarcane growers. In the Prime Minister Agriculture Emergency program, sugarcane was included despite the fact this crop had no productivity issue, rather we were producing surplus sugar and exporting with a subsidy from the taxpayers’ money. Whereas cotton, which the country has, stake and contribute 60% of foreign exchange was not included, because the architecture of the program has stakes in sugar. Similarly, sugarcane has taken away the area under cotton because sugar is protected by 40% import duty and sugarcane has an indicative price, whereas the sugar and textile industry resisted fixing the intervention price of cotton. He further briefed Sugarcane is a water-guzzling crop and consumes 3-4 times more water than cotton. Pakistan has become a water deficit country; we should plan crops considering water use. Sugarcane is also known as the Potash mining crop, it is one of the main reasons for shifting sugar mills to the south of Punjab from central Punjab. More than 60% of our land is now Potash deficient and requires the application of Potash fertilizer for optimal yields, he added.