FBR serves notices to Sindh residents with UK properties

In this file photo, A currency trader counts Pakistani Rupee notes. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 August 2018
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FBR serves notices to Sindh residents with UK properties

  • The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) issued notices to 400 Karachi residents on Friday and will dispatch 300 more to residents of other cities in Sindh
  • Tax experts say these are generalized notices that have apparently been issued to all those who had Pakistani reference in their UK tax returns

KARACHI: Four hundred Karachi residents have been served notices by the regional tax office of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), asking if they have used the recent tax amnesty scheme because they own properties in the United Kingdom, an FBR official told Arab News on Saturday.

Three hundred more individuals living in different cities of Sindh, including Hyderabad and Sukkur, would soon get similar notices, said the official on condition of anonymity since employees of the tax department cannot disclose such information to the media.
He added: “The owners of properties are required to explain the source of money they used while purchasing their UK assets and properties.”
A legal counsel confirmed that two of his clients had received such notices, though he refused to disclose their names and requested anonymity.
Zeeshan Merchant, vice president of Karachi Tax Bar Association, confirmed that such notices had been issued. “These are UK jurisdiction notices and, in the second phase, similar notices may also be issued to people who own properties in the United Arab Emirates. However, it seems that these are generalized notices that have been issued without proper research,” he told Arab News.
Merchant explained that if a person was a non-resident Pakistani, he should not get these notices. “Similarly, those who have mentioned their foreign assets, including their UK properties, in their wealth statement or foreign asset declaration should not get these notices.
“But it seems that all those who had a Pakistani reference in their UK tax returns have been chosen for these notices.”
Shaban Elahi, president of Pakistan Real Estate Investment Forum, also confirmed that notices had been issued to several Karachi residents.
“It’s an alarming issue that the FBR has issued notices to those as well who have already declared their foreign wealth in their statements,” Elahi told Arab News.
According to the FBR official, Pakistan being a signatory of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) will receive details of its citizens in the member countries by Sept. 30, 2018.
According to reports, the FBR in June 2017 established six AEOI zones across the country, including Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Karachi, and Quetta, with the FBR headquarters as the center point.


Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

Updated 24 May 2019
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Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

  • Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors
  • After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers said they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies

NEW DELHI: Foreign companies in India have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory for the political stability it brings, but now they need to see him soften a protectionist stance adopted in the past year.
Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors, with US firms such as Amazon.com , Walmart and Mastercard committing billions of dollars in investments and ramping up hiring.
India is also the biggest market by users for firms such as Facebook Inc, and its subsidiary, WhatsApp.
But from around 2017, critics say, the Hindu nationalist leader took a harder, protectionist line on sectors such as e-commerce and technology, crafting some policies that appeared to aim at whipping up patriotic fervor ahead of elections.

Opinion

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“I hope he’s now back to wooing businesses,” said Prasanto Roy, a technology policy analyst based in New Delhi, who advises global tech firms.
“Global firms remain deeply concerned about the lack of policy stability or predictability, this has sent a worrying message to global investors.”
India stuck to its policies despite protests and aggressive lobbying by the United States government, US-India trade bodies and companies themselves.
Small hurdles
Modi was set to hold talks on Friday to form a new cabinet after election panel data showed his Bharatiya Janata Party had won 302 of the 542 seats at stake and was leading in one more, up from the 282 it won in 2014.
After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers told Reuters they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies.
Other investors hope the government will avoid sudden policy changes on investment and regulation that catch them off guard and prove very costly, urging instead industry-wide consultation that permits time to prepare.
Protectionism concerns “are small hurdles you have to go through,” however, said Prem Watsa, the chairman of Canadian diversified investment firm Fairfax Financial, which has investments of $5 billion in India.
“There will be more business-friendly policies and more private enterprise coming into India,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Tech, healthcare and beyond
Among the firms looking for more friendly steps are global payments companies that had benefited since 2016 from Modi’s push for electronic payments instead of cash.
Last year, however, firms such as Mastercard and Visa were asked to store more of their data in India, to allow “unfettered supervisory access,” a change that prompted WhatsApp to delay plans for a payments service.
Modi’s government has also drafted a law to clamp similar stringent data norms on the entire sector.
But abrupt changes to rules on foreign investment in e-commerce stoked alarm at firms such as Amazon, which saw India operations disrupted briefly in February, and Walmart, just months after it invested $16 billion in India’s Flipkart.
Policy changes also hurt foreign players in the $5-billion medical device industry, such as Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, following 2017 price caps on products such as heart stents and knee implants.
Modi’s government said the move aimed to help poor patients and curb profiteering, but the US government and lobby groups said it harmed innovation, profits and investment plans.
“If foreign companies see their future in this country on a long-term basis...they will have to look at the interests of the people,” Ashwani MaHajjan, an official of a nationalist group that pushed for some of the measures, told Reuters.
That view was echoed this week by two policymakers who said government policies will focus on strengthening India’s own companies, while providing foreign players with adequate opportunities for growth.
Such comments worry foreign executives who fear Modi is not about to change his protectionist stance in a hurry, with one offical of a US tech firm saying, “I’d rather be more worried than be optimistic.”