CPEC power project: Seizure of Chinese firm’s accounts lands taxman in trouble
ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday ordered an inquiry against taxman for seizing the bank accounts of a Chinese company working on the $1.5 billion Karot hydropower project, which is a part of the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had acted against the Chinese company which had no tax liability, The Express Tribune has learnt. Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal ordered an inquiry as soon as the matter was brought into his notice during a progress review meeting of CPEC projects.
The China International Water and Electric Corporation is executing the $1.5 billion project likely to start production by 2020. It will generate 720 megawatts of electricity.
FBR’s field formations attached the Chinese firm’s bank accounts but could not defend the move later on, Ahsan told The Express Tribune. The government would not allow the FBR to harass foreign investors, he added.
It is learnt that FBR’s field formations took the action without taking the board’s headquarters into confidence.
The minister barred the FBR from taking any action against any Chinese company working on any CPEC project without taking prior permission from the finance and revenue minister. He also asked the FBR to rein in its field formations, saying that they should not take any action against foreign companies without prior permission of the FBR chairman.
The minister said all projects were progressing smoothly and their portfolios started maturing. The meeting also discussed the incentives offered to investors in special economic zones to be set up under CPEC.
The Board of Investment has forwarded the package to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for approval. Industrial parks to be set up under CPEC are an integral part of the long-term plan that will be implemented till 2030.
The meeting also reviewed progress of ongoing projects under CPEC in various sectors, including communication, railways, infrastructure, energy, Gwadar port and special industrial zones.
Ahsan directed the federal departments to cooperate with the provincial governments to ensure smooth working on CPEC projects.
He said the federal government would work with all stakeholders to ensure timely completion of CPEC projects. “The Centre will also remove all concerns of the provinces,” he added. “It is good to note that the federal as well as provincial governments are working on CPEC projects like a single team.”
The minister said that new technologies were being introduced in CPEC projects, especially in infrastructure, transportation and engineering sectors.
“CPEC is helping Pakistan as it has great opportunity to learn the state-of-the-art knowledge and technologies in these sectors,” he said. Pakistan’s universities and research institutes should tap these opportunities by making comprehensive planning in this regard.
Ahsan directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to prepare a comprehensive report with the help of local universities and research institutes. He also stressed the need to bring the educational curricula in line with modern trends and research.
The minister said capacity building of the institutes concerned and individuals was also an important goal set by the government._ Express Tribune
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