- Need to work harded on OECD information
The Central Board of Revenue’s DG International Taxes told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance, that information received from the OECD, in its Common Standards data, had revealed 57,450 accounts held abroad by Pakistani nationals worth $7.5 billion, but far 19 cases had led to the recovery of Rs883 million ($6 million). It may be mentioned that the OECD had promised the information in an agreement with the previous government, but had provided the information only the year before, to the present government.
Despite much rhetoric about bringing back ‘stolen money’ from the government, it seems that there were not just delays, but also inefficient use of information. Part, but only a small part, was the OECD’s fault, as the data received was in raw form (though it would be too much to expect the OECD to order data according to participating countries’ tax codes), with information of 1520,00 accounts shared. Also at fault was CBR’s own determination, as it did not go after these cases aggressively. Perhaps another reason was the fact that the CBR has had three Chairmen in this time, the latest being brought from the private sector. One result appears to have been the delay in empowering the CBR’s offshore commissioners, who were empowered only two weeks ago.
CBR would like to concentrate on the 378 cases where accounts have a balance of over $1 million dollars, though 53 of these belong to people who cannot be traced, and which account for 78 per cent of the total amount. These persons are the tip of the iceberg, and are apart from those who have availed either of the tax amnesties of this year or the last. Then there is the issue of the data expected this year from 80 countries. That should not lead to the cases revealed by the OECD data from being neglected. Then there is the question of the UAE, which claims that anyone holding an iqama counts as a citizen, and thus his or her data cannot be shared. The UAE, for a plethora of reasons, can be expected to yield a large number of accounts, and much money. The CBR ng so cannot afford to let go the sight of all this money abroad, as it seems it has been doing so far.