FBR proposing amendments to Benami laws
FBR proposing amendments to Benami laws

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is proposing amendments in the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Rules, 2019 to seek powers to dispose of immovable and movable Benami properties for expediting disposal process.

Sources told Business Recorder here on Saturday that the FBR Chairman, Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, held a special meeting of Anti-Benami Zones at the FBR Headquarters, here on Saturday.

The meeting was also attended by officials of the Directorate General Anti-Benami Initiatives and Benami-Zones. According to the sources, presently, the federal government is legally empowered to dispose of the movable and immovable properties through auction or other prescribed procedure.

To deal with the Benami cases the federal government means federal cabinet, and decision of disposal of each Benami property has to be taken by the federal cabinet. Under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Rules, 2019, the federal government is the competent authority to dispose of confiscated properties.

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This is a centralised government mechanism for disposal of properties. It needs to be de-centralised or devolved to speed up the process of disposal of such properties. In one case, the Anti-Benami Zone submitted the case of the disposal of confiscated luxury vehicle to the federal cabinet for disposal.

However, the decision has yet not been communicated to the concerned authorities. Sources said that the FBR is considering proposing amendments in the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Rules, 2019 in this regard.

The secretary Revenue Division may be authorised to dispose of the immovable and movable Benami properties through constitution of the committee. The committee comprising members would propose the secretary Revenue Division for disposal of the properties.

The purpose of the proposed amendments is to ensure speedy disposal of the properties, where all legal process has been completed, the sources said. During the meeting, a comparison of India's and Pakistan's Anti-Benami departments' performance was discussed. It was found that the Pakistan's Anti-Benami Zones performance is much better than India's.

It has been informed that the Anti-Benami department was established in India in 1988 but it become operational in 2016. In India, 484 cases of Benami immovable and movable properties were framed, but all were finished during trials in tribunals and other courts at the later stage.

In Pakistan, several big cases of Benami properties have been framed in a very short span of time and even concluded to the stage of disposal. The FBR chairman highly appreciated the performance of the Anti-Benami Zones and directed to further expedite the pending cases.

The Anti-Benami Adjudicating Authority performance revealed that the authority had decided 68 references out of 95 references, so far. Out of 68 decided references, moveable and immovable properties in 52 references have been declared Benami with declared value of Rs15 billion, whereas, their market value is even much higher.

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