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KARACHI, Sept 14: The revenue of Sindh from infrastructure cess on imports is likely to touch Rs21.8 billion in the current fiscal year compared to Rs18.2bn the last year (2012-13), according to the data released by the Excise and Taxation Department.

The province has already fetched Rs3.4bn in cess revenue in July-Aug 2013 compared with Rs2.5bn in the same months of last year.

A senior tax official attributed the increase to the cess rates which were up from 0.85 per cent to 0.95pc of the value of imports in the new budget.

Sindh government has made arrangements with customs for collecting cess through the automated WeBOC (Web Based One Customs) along with customs duty and other taxes at the import stage. But still half of the collection is made through manual challans issued by PRAL (Pakistan Revenue Automation Ltd) as the consignees have to pay the cess through pay orders before a consignment is allowed out of the port.

The E&T relies on the value of a consignment assessed by the customs and has no expertise to verify the value on its own, he said.

Consequently, in case of under-invoicing of goods the department has to suffer huge revenue loss as the cess is paid at the fictional value. On detection of under-invoicing in a consignment the customs may recover its dues through legal action but the differential amount of cess is not recovered.

The professional tax is another progressive levy which has tremendous scope for enlarging its tax base. It is collected from companies and businesses on the basis of paid-up capital and turnovers as well from persons engaged in different professions.All income tax assessees are legible to pay the professional tax, which is deducted from employees salaries at the rate of Rs150 a year. Petrol pumps pay tax at a fixed rate of Rs2,500.

The official pointed out that constant efforts were made to widen the tax base, which consists of 310,000 taxpayers in the metropolis. However, the efforts to exchange data of assessees with the income tax department to broaden the tax net did not prove fruitful as the Sindh department had more up-to-date data.