Expat’s Complaint: Wafaqi Mohtasib (Federal Ombudsman) jumps into action

PKONWEB Report – The Wafqi Mohtasib (Federal Ombudsman) Secretariat Islamabad took cognizance of an expat’s complaint against an allegedly unjust tax deduction.

An overseas Pakistani working in Saudi Arabia Muhammad Ashfaq had complained against the “unfair” deduction of withholding tax on withdrawal of amount exceeding Rs.50,000/- from the banks in Wafaqi Mohtasib’s Secretariat.

Hearing this, Senior Advisor (Law) and Grievance Commissioner for Overseas Pakistanis, Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar Khokhar asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Islamabad to explain the tax deduction from foreign remittances bank account.

In response FBR submitted a report with explanation.

The report explained that if the tax was sbeing charged in such case, it was due to some fault in the banks’ system. There was no tax applicable on the bank accounts where foreign remittances are deposited directly, it maintained.

The matter was disposed off by the Secretariat after receiving FBR’s clarification that the exemption was being granted while no tax on cash withdrawal from a bank account was applicable on foreign remittances deposited directly into such account.

Overseas Pakistanis can now heave a sigh of relief as they can withdraw their cash from such bank accounts, where foreign remittances are deposited, without paying any withholding tax.

Some 9.4 million Pakistanis are abroad and remit yearly $19 billion on the average- the remittances are crucial for the country’s balance of payment and forex reserve.

The new government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan calls overseas Pakistanis as assets.

It has launched several initiatives for overseas Pakistanis including facilitating them in resolving ‘unforeseen’ problems back home as they work abroad.

A new app to help Pakistanis abroad with visa, work, legal and family issues has been launched.

Creating online interfaces to facilitate them, negotiations with host countries aimed at increasing the duration of the first contract of migrant workers and subsidies on air tickets for the workers who haven’t returned home for seven years,” are some of the initiatives under ‘Mazdoor-Ka-Ehsaas.’

The launching of Naya Pakistan Calling Web portal to utilize the expertise of OPs in strategic decision making in public sector organizations, launching and development of OPF Farm Housing Scheme (OPF Greens) at Raiwind Road, Lahore, E-Learning Initiative (Online Lectures) at OPF Educational Institutions and Establishment of Facilitation and Reintegration Center for returnee migrant workers are some of other programs initiated by the government.