The FBR hopes to enforce its rules against ‘benami transactions’ from February 8.
Benami literally means ‘without a name’ and is an arrangement where property is held and used by one person on behalf of another person who paid for it or a transaction that is made for a piece of property under a fictitious name. It can also mean when the purported owner of a property is unaware of it or denies ownership. The FBR wants to enforce the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 and to do so, it has sent proposed rules and regulations to the federal law ministry.
“The draft rules and regulations have been dispatched to the ministry of law and justice for vetting, hopefully the law will be implemented by the seventh or eighth of this week, Dr Hamid Ateeq, the policy member of the FBR, told journalists in Islamabad on Monday.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 has been passed by the National Assembly but the rules and regulations hadn’t been written. These rules and regulations include what functions will be handled by which departments within the FBR.
People involved in benami transactions will face harsh punishments, including the confiscation and sale of their property and freezing of their bank accounts, said Dr Ateeq.
The FBR will notify the benami rules and procedures after they are vetted by the law ministry. Any property held in benami will initially be confiscated by the federal government for 90 days and then be sold.
Data regarding bank accounts, travel history and large properties is being scrutinised by the FBR. The government will not offer any new amnesty schemes and will also not harass those who availed amnesty schemes in the past, according to the FBR. Those with legal money or declared properties should not be worried about FBR notices because it’s a routine exercise, explained FBR officials.
The board has already collected bank account information of more than 150,000 Pakistanis from 26 jurisdictions abroad as well as information from Dubai authorities on properties held by Pakistanis in the UAE.
There are a number of people in the tax net who are also involved in benami transactions, FBR officials disclosed.