LAHORE - The banks and financial institutions of the country will deduct Zakat on first of Ramadan. Customers have already started to withdraw money from banks and are finding means of avoiding deductions but still a large number of people would be facing Zakat deduction. Account holders having Rs61,336 would be facing a cut of 2.5 per cent from their accounts. Any person who has deposited money on a day before the first Ramadan would also face deduction.
The banks and financial institutions have collected Rs3.915 billion in head of Zakat in 2010-11. The amount is used by the Bait ul Maal for different development projects in the country. There are many flaws and discrepancy in the deduction of Zakat through banks, which makes it doubtful in the eyes of a large number of people. The Zakat and Ushr system was introduced through Zakat and Ushr Ordinance in 1980 as a part of the overall policy of then President of Pakistan Zia ul Haq for Islamizing the society.
An Organization called Central Zakat Administration (CZA) was established to implement Zakat System in Pakistan. However, critics of the system argue that many basic principles were ignored in deducting Zakat from the account holders. According to Zakat and Ushr ministry any accountholder having more than Rs61.336 would be liable for paying Zakat. According to basics of Zakat any person having 52 tolas of silver or 7.5 tolas of gold for one year has to pay Zakat. In these days, the price of gold is around Rs52,000 per tola while silver is Rs1,275 per tola thus the minimum amount for deducting Zakat should be Rs66,and not Rs61,336.
The banks will deduct zakat irrespective of the date of deposit of the amount. Any person who deposits money a day before will be liable to pay Zakat. A large number of customers give a certificate for not deducting Zakat. Moreover, often banks do not inform customers about the deduction of Zakat. It is pertinent to mention that according to the rules if an accountholder wants exemption from Zakat deduction then he/she should give a certificate at least one month before Ramazan.
“This rule is not known to the majority of customers and when they try to submit a certificate a week before the banks say no,” said an official of national saving adding that he knows many customers who have faced a similar situation. “The concerned authorities never advertise or publicise this rule as this way the amount of Zakat collected is greater,” he added. A widow, Jameela Akhter, at national saving scheme centre Model Town said that she came for depositing certificate for not deducting Zakat when she found out that she should have deposited the certificate at least one month before Ramzan.
“It is a great injustice,” she lamented. According to bank rules, any person having foreign currency account or current account is exempted from the deduction. The banking industry sources said that a large number of people adopt different procedures for avoiding Zakat. For instance, some customers opt for pay order and some go for cash deposit report, in both cases they save themselves from paying Zakat, said a banker adding some customers transfer their money to current accounts. Relgious scholar Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman said that it is up to the customers if they want to pay Zakat through the banks or not.
He said the government cannot use Zakat funds for the construction of roads and bridges.