ISLAMABAD (INP): The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday said relaxation given to non-filers for purchasing property and cars has encouraged tax evaders and corrupt. The decision will hit the efforts to broaden tax net, stop the influx of black money into real estate market, stabilise the price of plots and homes, and bring an end to the culture of premium in the auto industry, it said. The move will not go down with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) authorities that are due soon in the country to review the progress against money laundering and terror financing, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW. Talking to President of Rawalpindi Islamabad Tax Bar Association (RITBA) Syed Tauqeer Bukhari, he said that the real estate sector will again emerge as a favourite area for the corrupt who find it convenient to hide their ill-gotten money in this business. Murtaza Mughal said that the claim of the government to facilitate non-filer to buy properties will encourage expatriates to invest in Pakistan is baseless as they already enjoy exemption under the Income Tax Ordinance.

He noted that the decision to help tax cheats to buy properties and costly vehicles indicate the growing influence of real estate mafia and auto industry milking masses since decades.

At the occasion, RITBA President Syed Tauqeer Bukhari said that a delegation of FATF is due shortly to review the situation but no purposeful action has been taken against money launderers and those involved in terror financing.

He said that recently FIA arrested some currency dealers in Peshawar to please FATF but relevant clauses were not applied and they were charged under Maintenance of Public Order which was overturned by the High Court due to the absence of any evidence.

The action of federal agency speaks a lot about the capacity and will of the officials which will never satisfy FATF and it will not add to the reputation of the country, Bukhari said.

He noted that the government’s plan to modify the relevant income tax law will not help improve the situation or help get desired results.