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Business, Global

ISLAMABAD – Finland was a developed country with advanced technology and it was ready to cooperate with Pakistan in health, education, clean technology, renewable energy, water management, waste to energy solutions and many other fields. To realize these objectives, facilitating regular interactions between the private sectors of Finland and Pakistan was essential.

 

This was observed by Rauli Suikannen, Ambassador of Finland, while addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He visited ICCI along with Mr Hahlantera, Commercial Counselor of Finland in UAE, and Asad Ansari, Honorary Consul of Finland in Pakistan.

He said that Finland was poised to achieve highest economic growth in Europe this year and Pakistan could achieve good economic benefits by enhancing cooperation with Finland. He said Finland has a comprehensive vocational trainings system and it could cooperate with Pakistan for trainings and skills development of its people. He said Finland was a strong supporter of EU’s GSP Plus status for Pakistan. He said Pakistan was mostly exporting textiles products to EU under this facility and it should focus on other products for achieving better results.

He said Finland wanted to enhance local presence in Pakistan and would try to open its Embassy in Pakistan in future.

Speaking at the occasion, Sheikh Amir Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Finland was not up to the real potential of both countries and they should focus on frequent exchange of trade delegations to identify new areas of mutual cooperation. He said that law & order situation has improved while CPEC has created plenty of business and investment opportunities in Pakistan. He said it was right time for Finnish investors to explore Pakistan for JVs and investment.

He said 9 Special Economic Zones would be set up under CPEC in Pakistan and Finnish investors should invest in SEZs with latest technology. He identified engineering, agriculture, energy, mining, telecommunication, biotechnology, health and education as potential areas of mutual cooperation between the two countries. He said organizing B2B meetings was the best way to explore business matchmakings.

Muhammad Naveed, Senior Vice President ICCI said that private sectors of both countries should work on identifying collaborative models to further strengthen trade relations. Ms. Fatima Azeem, Zia A Zikria, Muhammad Shakeel Munir and other also spoke at the occasion.

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Global
Remittances, a major source of revenue for the world”s poorest countries, are due to grow again this year after falling two years in a row, the World Bank said Tuesday. Such cash transfers to low and middle-income countries are on course to rise by 4.8 percent in 2017, reaching $450 billion.

Economic expansion in Russia, Europe and the United States will see migrants and families send increasing amounts of cash back to Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a World Bank report.

But growth will be subdued for East Asia and South Asia, home to major recipient countries, the report found. As oil prices fall, Gulf countries, traditionally large sources of outbound remittance flows, are spending less and discouraging recruitment of foreign workers. “Remittances are a lifeline for developing countries,” Dilip Ratha, lead author of the bank”s Migration and Development Brief, said in a statement.
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Global
Pakistan will be able to get access to foreign financial details of its nationals from 104 countries under global treaties on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) by September 2018; it was learnt. Sources said the AEIO was an initiative of Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members and Pakistan has committed to starting exchange of information of financial accounts on automatic basis from September 2018.

They said that a list, which earlier comprised 88 countries to start exchange of information of financial accounts on automatic basis, has now been extended to 104 countries including Switzerland, Faroe Islands, British Virgin Islands, India Russian Federation, Saint Kitts And Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Islands of the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Saint Maarten, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Turks & Caicos Islands, United Kingdom, Uruguay and others.

They said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) under the said global treaties’ obligations has established and notified six AEOI zones across the country at RTOs Peshawar, Multan, Quetta and LTUs Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. For the purpose, an isolated Centre, dedicated for receipt of information and data processing, has been established in the FBR Headquarters. The centre has been secured both physically and virtually and all the AEOI data shall be accessed; processed and transferred only from the AEOI Centre by dedicated human resource.

They further said that all activities and transactions in the AEOI Centre would be monitored and recorded and only the designated officers would have access to the information in the AEOI Centre of FBR Headquarters. According to the Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) for AEIO, the information to be received from various jurisdictions on automatic basis under a bilateral or multilateral agreement/ instrument shall be cross-matched with the existing database in the AEOI Centre.

In case the reported person is an existing taxpayer, the information shall be passed on to the concerned AEOI Zone as per the afore-mentioned jurisdiction. In case the reported person is not registered with FBR, the secretary (Exchange of Information) shall assign jurisdiction of the case to the relevant AEOI Zone based on the current address.

The entire sorting and cross-matching exercise along with assigning of the jurisdiction and any other function related thereto will be carried out only in the AEOI Centre of FBR (HQ) by the designated officials. Based on the above jurisdiction, the information shall be transferred electronically from the AEOI Centre to the desktop of the commissioner of relevant AEOI Zone through a secured channel. The Commissioner (AEOI) will not have any access whatsoever to the information pertaining to other AEOI Zones.

On receipt of information, in case of existing taxpayer, the Commissioner AEOI Zone shall seek physical record from the concerned Large Taxpayers Unit or Regional Tax Office where the case exists. The Commissioner AEOI Zone shall open and maintain separate confidential covers pertaining to the information received and keep the confidential covers in safe custody, inaccessible to irrelevant and unauthorized staff or persons.

The Commissioner AEOI Zone shall also record entry in the manual stock register for AEOI cases and keep such registers in safe custody. All transfer of information, which will be encrypted and digitally signed, from AEOI Centre to the Commissioners AEOI Zones will take place through Virtual Private Network (VPN) Tunnel.

In case of un-registered person, the concerned Commissioner (AEOI) shall register the person as prescribed in Chapter VIII of Income Tax Rules, 2002 and the Commissioner (AEOI) will issue notice u/s 176 of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 to the reported person seeking any information or documents as deemed appropriate.

The information and documents sought in the notice may, inter alia, include CNIC/NICOP/POC/NTN, details about the financial account, sources of investment, etc. The Commissioner (AEOI) may also seek information u/s 176 of Income Tax Ordinance 2001 from any other person or authority, as deemed appropriate, while taking into account confidentiality of AEOI information received.

The Commissioner (AEOI) may also summon the reported person for investigation u/s 176 (1) (b) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. In case of unsatisfactory reply to the notice u/s 176 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, or no reply at all, the Commissioner (AEOI) shall issue notices u/s 114(4) and 116(1) of the Income Tax 0rdinace,2001, in cases where income tax return and wealth statement has not been filed;

Once response to the aforementioned notices is received, or no reply is received at all, as well as cases where income tax return and wealth statement has already been filed, the Commissioner (AEOI) shall proceed in the case in accordance with the provisions of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 and the final outcome of the case shall be reported to the board.

All matters related to Confidentiality and Data Safeguards in AEOI Centre, AEOI Zones and any other AEOI related persons, or jurisdiction, will strictly be governed under Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, Sales Tax Act, 1990, Federal Excise Act 2005, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973, Government Servants Conduct Rules 1964 and any other relevant law for the time being in force.

Any breach of Confidentiality and Data Safeguards will be taken very seriously and proceedings initiated against the concerned persons under the aforementioned laws. Periodic inspections will be conducted to ascertain that necessary measures are being taken to ensure confidentiality and protection of AEOI data.
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Taxation
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has conveyed to the Ministry of Commerce that there is no discrimination in policy for customs valuation of European cars vis-à-vis cars of Asian origin. Sources told Business Recorder here on Tuesday that the Chief Customs, FBR, informed that there is no discrimination in policy for valuation of cars.

The issue is arising as the European cars are expensive at ex-factory price than the Asian origin cars. Hence, they are evaluated accordingly, the FBR added. The FBR was responding to the issue of discriminatory customs valuation of European cars vis-à-vis cars of Asian origin, resulting in different assessments of customs duties on imported vehicles from these origins. As the proposed meeting among Ministry of Commerce, FBR and the European car manufacturers could not be held due to non-availability of European side, the same meeting may be scheduled in due course of time.

Directorate General of Customs Valuation Karachi has the mandate to issue customs valuation rulings for accurate assessment of taxes on imported goods. The issue of discriminatory customs valuation of European cars vis-à-vis cars of Asian origin has been brought to the notice of the FBR. According to sources, the customs valuation issue is being faced in the case of European car producers which do not have a sale representative company in Pakistan, eg Porsche, and the valuation of imported cars is being done on the basis of car ex-factory price quoted by the manufacturer. This resulted in different rates of customs duties on the import of cars from Europe and Asia. Directorate General of Customs Valuation Karachi determines the custom values of the imported vehicles under section 25A of the Custom Act 1969, taking into account prices prevailing in the international market.
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