By M. Iqbal Patel, F. C. A. , Chartered Accountant, Karachi

The Government is celebrating with its tall claim that it has achieved a growth rate of 8.4% after decisive struggle and thus has achieved the welfare of the people. Whereas the people are searching in daylight with candle the prosperity and the improved standard of living as claimed by the Government to have been achieved. The growing inflation which reached to 9.3% with food inflation at around 13% has robbed the purchasing power of the poor thereby the prosperity which would have accrued to the people of Pakistan as a result of economic growth remained limited to the richer to become richer. Thus the economic policies of the Government are indicative that its leading the country to the concentration of wealth in few hands.

The Government in formulating the budget has concentrated to two major sectors of the economy viz agriculture and textile. It has offered them numerous fiscal benefits and incentives. The growth of agriculture sector in GDP was 7.5% and of manufacturing sector at 12.5%. The agriculture and manufacturing sectors have 21.5% and 15.9% respectively share of GDP. Whereas the agriculture has yield of only 1.2% in taxes; it eats up the taxes paid by the taxpayers while manufacturing sector pays 61 % taxes, with the exception of textile sector whose contribution to tax is meager. These two sectors: are creating distortion by not paying tax proportionately to their share to GDP.

The Government in order to boost the confidence of the landlords offered incentives to them in 2004-05 including imported fertilizer was supplied to them at cheaper rate, provided relief of Rs.3.8 bin, paid loan of Rs 100 bin, import of tractors is allowed free of duty and what not else. At the same time it increased the prices of wheat and cotton at the misery of the common man.

Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinah, the father of nation said..." I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at the peoples expense by a system which is so vicious , which is so wicked, and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They have forgotten the lessons of Islam".

While the Government has offered enormous incentives and benefits to these sectors but did not provide for any measure which ensure that the benefit of good production and the reduction of input cost to be accrued to them will be passed on to the common man. So as to provide them relief and would have justified the incentives offered to them by the Government.

Some of the major proposals of the Finance Bill 2005-06 in respect of income tax are discussed for the benefit of the readers as under:


The Finance Ordinance 2002 inserted sub-section (1A) to section 2 whereby banking companies and NBFC were allowed the facility of amalgamation. This facility was subsequently extended to the insurance companies by Finance Act 2004. Now by virtue of the proposed amendment this facility is extended to the companies owing and managing industrial undertakings. Previously public companies or companies incorporated under any law, other than the Companies Ordinance 1984, were entitled for amalgamation and the scheme of amalgamation was required to be approved by the State Bank of Pakistan and SEC on or before June 30 now these conditions have been removed. However, the condition for approval under respective laws from relevant regulators will continue to be operative.

This amendment will facilitate an amalgamated corporate company to claim to set off accumulated business losses of an amalgamating company or carry forward these losses for adjustment against the business profit of the amalgamated company for a period of six tax years. Similarly it can carry forward unabsorbed deprecation till it is fully claimed. However, new conditions have been introduced that these losses can now be set off provided the amalgamated company continues the same business of the amalgamating company for a period of five years from the date of amalgamation and complies with the conditions of approval of the scheme.

The proposed amendment is in line with the demand of the business community who were facing hardship in their assessment of tax in case of amalgamation. It has brought an industrial undertaking at par with the financial sector for the purpose of amalgamation. Thereby the disparity created between them is eliminated. It will encourage the amalgamation of sick units with the sound units which will strengthen the corporate sector and enhance the employment opportunities which will be a step forward to alleviate poverty in the country. However, keeping in view our corporate culture possibility of being misuse of the facility of amalgamation may not be ruled out particularly when the scheme does not carry any condition to avail tax benefits of amalgamation.

We are behind India in this respect that has allowed in 1961 the corporate sector as its policy for revival and rehabilitation of sick industries, merger of companies and offered them tax incentives for the purpose. But it acted very cautiously and made this benefit with certain conditions.

It is, therefore, suggested that the Ordinance should provide for the amalgamated company to prepare a scheme identifying the real causes of the non-viability of the amalgamating sick unit whether it is attributable to non-availability of working capital or needs up-gradation of plant and machineries or suffering from technological or managerial deficiencies or lacks marketing net work and such other related matters. It should spell out the ways and means to overcome these issues. The scheme so prepared appropriately is approved by the shareholders of the amalgamated company. The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) or the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SEC) may scrutinize the proposed scheme Moreover the amalgamated company may require to produce a certificate from the statutory auditor to the affect that adequate measures are taken by it for rehabilitation of the sick unit so as to enable it to avail the tax benefits of the scheme.

++Small Company (S.59A)++.---The bill has first time determined the status of small company and medium enterprise (SME) through precise definition of small company b/s 59A and 80.It is apprehended that this definition will be acceptable to all stakeholders. Before that the State Bank of Pakistan and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SAMEDA) has totally different definition of SMEs. According to proposed definition small company for tax purposes will be a company registered with the SEC effective from July 1, 2005 with a paid-up capital plus undistributed reserves no exceeding Rs 25 m1n and annual turnover not exceeding Rs.200 min.

The tax benefit offered to SME includes a confessional corporate tax rate of 20%, it will neither is liable to pay minimum tax u/s 113 @ 0.5% nor is required to withhold tax from payment made to a resident person or permanent establishment of non-resident person in Pakistan These incentives are very attractive and will attract large number of companies Jo register with SEC to avail these tax benefits. In the industrial development of the country importance of the SME sector can not be under estimated particularly when the SMEs contribute nearly 90% of all the enterprises of Pakistan which employs 80% of the non-agricultural labor force and its share in the GDP is approximately 40%.

However, it is apprehended that under the existing situation when the corporate tax rates applicable to other companies are in the range of 35-41% that is at higher rates than what has been proposed for the SMEs which will encourage the existing companies to change their status to avail these tax reduction and other benefits. However, the introducing a special regime for the SME sector may be misused by the companies.

++Group Relief (S 59B)++.---The Finance Act, 2004 introduced the concept of group relief in respect of set of assessed losses, other than brought forward losses, of a subsidiary company owning and managing an industrial undertaking of a public company listed on stock exchange of Pakistan, in favour of its holding company. The proposed amendment seeks to extend this benefit to an undertaking engaged in providing services who may surrender its assessed loss for the tax year, other than brought over losses, to its holding company subject to fulfillment of the conditions provided in the section in respect of holding company should hold 75% or more of the share capital of the subsidiary company in addition to others mentioned above.

The service sector has contribution of 52% to GDP and shown impressive growth from 4% in 1995-00 to 7.9% in 2004-05 it has become most important source of employment, This trend has encouraged the Government to offer them tax incentives to broaden the ,tax generation. The said incentive will encourage the service providers for corporatise themselves.

++Tax on retailers (S. 113B)++.---The section 113A has been inserted by Finance Act 2004 whereby a retailer being an individual or association of persons, having annual turnover up to Rs 5 mln has been allowed an option to pay income tax at the rate of 0.75% of the declared turnover as final tax instead of tax on their normal business profit. Through the proposed amendment this benefit is extended to such retailers of textile fabrics and articles of apparel including ready made garments or fashion wear, articles of leather including footwear, carpet, surgical and sports goods, being an individual or AOP, has turnover exceeding Rs 5 mln for any tax year, shall pay final tax @ 1% of turnover. The tax so paid shall form part of the sin glee stage sales tax @ 3% of the declared turnover. Such retailers instead filing of return of total income shall be required to file a statement u/s 115 declaring turnover and tax thereon.

++Withholding tax on export (Clause (1)++.---Seventh Schedule; The bill has added new entry (4) in the table in clause (1) in Division IV under heading Export listed in Part IV of the Seventh Schedule by way of transfer of the items from Part I and III to Part II and IV which have been zero rated enhancing their tax rate by 0.25% to 1.50%

The reason being that zero rating schemes introduced in the budget on supply of whole chain of textile related products and services for export oriented industries; which resulted revenue loss. In order to bridge this revenue loss, the Federal Textile Board had proposed to increase withholding tax by 0.25% to 0.75% on textile export proceeds as against present levy of 0.75% -1.25%. Accordingly accepting their proposal the Government has increased rate of tax to 1.50% on export of total chain of textiles and other goods which have been made zero rated.

++Annuity plan and pension fund (Ss.3A, 3B, 3C, 19A & 29B)++.---The SEC has issued Voluntary Pension System Rules, 2005 (VPSR) with a primary objectives to allow the creation of Pension Fund Scheme (PFS) with a view that the individuals may accumulate funds for their retirement. The bill has introduced the definitions of the Annuity Plan, Pension Fund, and Contribution to the Fund, Eligible Person and Individual Pension Account. The maximum contribution to the Fund by individual or by employer on behalf of an individual has been increased from Rs. 200,000 but will not exceed Rs. 500,000 in a tax year.

The section 63 has been proposed to be substituted allowing an eligible person deriving income from salary or under the head income from business, to a tax credit for a tax year in respect of ,any contribution or premium paid in the year in APF under VPSR. The existing Retirement Annuity Scheme has been deleted and APF Scheme has been introduced which will be approved by SEC under VPSR. It will be managed by asset Management Company registered under Non-Banking Finance Companies (Establishment and Regulations) Rules 2003 or a life insurance company registered and approved under VPSR to manage the APF.

++Salaried taxpayers++; the Government has reduced income tax rates of salaried persons from 7.5% to 3.5% and higher slab is reduced from 35% to 30%. On one hand this benefit is felt much short of expectation on the other hand this benefit in reduction of tax rates has been taken away by withdrawing the reduction in tax liability available to salaried individuals. Considering the growing food inflation at 13%; the benefit of this reduction in tax rate will not be felt by the salaried class. Thereby the economic managers did not give indication of any change in their philosophy to bridge widening gap between the rich and the poor rather it reflects the consistency and continuity of their policy of sympathy with the richer class.

++Stock exchange++.---The income of an individual derived from transfer of his membership rights or shares of .a stock exchange to a company during the year July 1, 2005 and June 30, '2006 has been exempted from tax. Further more in order to encourage enlistment on the stock exchange, reduction in tax rate by 1% is allowed to the companies, enlisting on any stock exchange in Pakistan during the year July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006

Moreover capital gains have been exempted from tax in the hands of insurance companies up to tax year ending on June 30 2007 derived on sale of maharaja certificates or any instrument of redeemable capital, listed on any stock exchange or shares of a public company and the Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation vouchers issued by the GOP

The above measures would go long way to boost the index of stock exchange. However, the bill does not provide any tax proposals for stock brokers as it was apprehended from the public speeches of the Chairman of CBR who had conceded that the stock brokers make huge profit but they remained untaxed. It was also reported that CBR had in principle agreed to levy central excise duty as service tax on commission earned by the stock brokers. But the budget allowed them to enjoy tax free incomes.

++Back trak++; before the announcement of budget, there was hue and cry from CBR forum that the Government has determined to enhance tax basely hooks and crook. It was publicized that non-filers of tax return would be detected through the scrutiny of secondary sources such as housing authorities, travel agents, mobile phone service providers and others. Contrary to this exercise to be undertaken to hunt for potential tax payers, the bill has relaxed the conditions to furnish annual return of tax under section 114 by removing owners of motor vehicle, subscribers of telephone, foreign travelers and member of a club. Who were required to furnish return of income but now they are excluded from tax net. Although each of them is resourceful and are potential taxpayers. Probably it has been done to cover the inefficiency of the tax collector who have failed to bring these people into tax net. Any way it is not comprehensible as what was wrong if these provisions remained on the statute, even though their failure to resort to them.

Similarly the Chairman of CBR was critical that property dealers who make huge profit yet they remained untaxed. But after announcement of the budget still they remained untaxed which is not understable then why there was hue and cry on the subject.

++Options available++ .---The budget is considered to have provided the only solution available under the present scenario of the economy. We must ponder upon the issue that whether there are other options available application of which would have benefited the masses in a better way instead of concentrating to selected sectors/class. The facts ? and figure speaks themselves as projected in the budget.

The budget sets a target of tax revenue of Rs 690 bin which is composed of direct tax and indirect tax receipt at Rs.215 and Rs 475 bin that is 31% and 69% respectively. It shows that heavy reliance is placed on indirect tax receipt. The indirect tax has characteristic to pass this tax to the common man who eventually suffers the burden of such tax. Thus this tax policy is leading the country towards concentration of wealth into few hands; resultant richer becomes richer and vice versa..

This situation suggests to modify the tax policy whereby the ratio of direct taxes should exceed indirect tax. In order to achieve the objective of increase reliance on direct tax, it is necessary to enhance the tax base. Further distortions in tax law in respect of levy of tax. are removed. The agriculture growth achieved in 2004-05 at 7.5% to GDP as against 2.2% last year reflects that this sector has matured enough to contribute to the national exchequer. The Constitutional protection of exemption from tax given to agriculture income be withdrawn and it should be brought to tax net.

Similar is the case with capital gain income derived from sale-purchase of immovable property which by virtue of Constitutional limitation is out of the scope of income tax. It is the need of the time to bring this source of income under tax net through Constitutional amendment. If the Constitution can be amended for the interest of an individual allowing him to wear specific cloths, then why it is not amended for national interest.

Moreover there are exemptions available in the Second Schedule to the income of mutual funds and to capital gains from sale of shares of public companies listed on stock exchange needs review to continue their exemptions in view of present scenario when the mutual funds are diverting their funds in acquiring the banks and industries shows that they are potential taxpayers and needs no exemption. Similarly the index of stock exchange has crossed over 10,000 barriers which is a pointer that the level of income has reached to a level that allows to withdraw this exemption. In fact these exemptions were allowed in 1983 and onward when they needed tax incentive to establish the capital market. Now the situation has entirely changed accordingly tax law should be changed too to meet the demand of the time.

The above measures are not exhaustive overhauling of the Second Schedule will provide more avenues, nevertheless the above measures will broaden the tax base and will allow the reduction in tax rates which are the highest compared the other countries. The Federal Reserve Chairmen of USA Alan Greenspan said broadening the tax base and the lowering tax rate would enhance economic efficiency and prosperity.

Moreover other measures include import tariff may be reduced in a way which may not lead to closure of local industries; it should be kept within limit to pay off the import bill out of export proceeds. Further in the present scenario of WTO and globalization the competitive prices and quality of the product plays decisive role. The input cost be reduced, the power tariff should not be allowed to increase frequently at the inefficiency of WAPDA and KESC. As power cost constitute major part of the production cost which hamper pricing of the product.

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