LAHORE: An adjournment motion in the Punjab Assembly (PA) regarding corruption by property tax officials was kept pending on Tuesday while a number of arguments were presented from both the mover of the motion and the minister for excise and taxation.

MPA Sheikh Allauddin moved the motion during the proceedings of the PA. The motion said the tax officials were involved in corruption of billions of rupees. It alleged that the officials hired the services of criminals to harass tax payers, adding that property owners were given red and black notices and arrest warrants were issued against them. It said the officials had no legal authority to do so. It claimed that the officials gave wrong assessments, and intentionally put wrong names on records to extort money from owners. It also alleged that the officials reduced taxes for people who would bribe them, while they would increase the same for taxpayers who refused to do so. It said tax officials should be sent to departments that did not require any public dealing, adding that officials in the department should not be allowed to serve for more than three years and should be taught to respect taxpayers.

Incorrect: After the motion was presented, Minister for Excise and Taxation Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman defended the department and said the allegations were incorrect. He said the department issued notices in accordance with the rules, regulations and the law, adding that the notices were served to people who did not pay their taxes. However, he said only 15 percent of the people failed to pay their taxes. He claimed that department officials respected taxpayers, were responsible and did not discriminate.

The minister also said property tax officials could not be sent to other departments because their work required training and no one else could do the work.

Allauddin said the minister was giving generic answers. He also cross-questioned the minister about the increase in taxes. He said if patwaris could distribute flour and tehsildars could distribute fertilisers then the tax officials should be able to work in other departments. He said he could prove everything in the House, adding that he would not let the motion be disposed of, and would leave the House if the motion was disposed of.

Answers: Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the minister was not defending the department and was only giving the answers he had received from the department. He suggested that the motion be kept pending until Monday, adding that the provincial secretary for excise and taxation would be called and he would discuss the matters with the minister who moved the motion. The speaker agreed and ordered the motion pending until Monday.

Source: Daily Times