Karachi: Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), the collective body of top 200 multinational companies in Pakistan, expressed its shock and dismay at the action of the FBR Large Tax Payer Unit (LTU) Islamabad yesterday in sealing the premises of the Pakistan Mobile Telecommunication Limited (PMCL), widely known across the country as ‘JAZZ”, within hours after serving a notice for payment of an alleged tax demand.
Commenting on this disturbing news Haroon Rashid, President OICCI, observed “Without going into details of the legality of the tax demand, the manner in which officials of the LTU Islamabad acted in the matter, against one of the largest tax payers in the country is most disappointing as this blatant action is a huge setback for Government of Pakistan and OICCI’s joint efforts to attract FDI in the country. “
OICCI further stated that FDI in Pakistan at less than one percent of the GDP, against the norm of three percent, is the lowest in the region. Abrupt and unjustified action like this will go against the declared emphasis of the senior leadership of the government towards the Ease of Doing Business and facilitating large inflow of FDI, for harnessing the massive economic growth opportunities, promote export and employment.
The sealing of the premises of the largest mobile operator, is bound to create ripples within the foreign investors’ community operating in Pakistan, and may negatively resonate in the business chambers of 35 countries from where OICCI member companies have come to do business in Pakistan.
Haroon Rashid concluded that ‘Going forward, OICCI strongly urges the Chairman FBR to immediately engage with the management of JAZZ for an amicable resolution of the matter, in a more investor friendly manner”.
Meanwhile the spokesperson of Jazz in a statement said that their company is amongst the largest taxpayers and the biggest foreign investors with an investment of over $9.5 billion during the last 25 years. In the last 6 years alone, Jazz has contributed over Rs251 billion to the national exchequer in the form of taxes and duties.
Jazz has always been a law-abiding corporate citizen and has been in the forefront for contributing to Pakistan’s economy in monetary and development terms, and as the market leader in telecom and internet services with over 63 million customers.
The company has also discharged its social responsibility in floods, earthquakes, and recently in COVID-19 relief response worth over PKR 1.2 billion.
According to Jazz Spokesperson, “We have received a notice from FBR yesterday for the recovery of a disputed tax demand and we have serious reservations on these alleged taxes. The proceedings were carried out on plea of a tax recovery notice for a disputed amount from 2018 which is under legal proceedings. Due to the drastic measures our corporate reputation and pride has been hurt and shakes the confidence of foreign investors of Jazz and others. Despite being the largest taxpayers, we are treated in an unfortunate way. While the government is making efforts to improve the business environment in the country, such drastic measures would unfortunately severely affect investment prospects.”
Jazz seeks resolution of the matter and has always been willing to conduct dialogue as well as rightful legal course to reach merit and right interpretation. Jazz also assures its valued customers that despite the challenges, we will continue to provide uninterrupted services.