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Our staff Reporter

Dawn

Published Date: Mar 21, 2017

Relaxed regulations for philanthropy sector being misused

ISLAMABAD: A member of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Monday stressed the need for a foolproof mechanism to address promotion of extremism in the society by certain organisations.

Addressing a pre-budget seminar titled ‘Federal Budget 2017-18 and Philanthropy Sector’, held at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), the FBR member Dr Mohammed Iqbal alleged that relaxed regulations for philanthropy sector were being misused.

He said the government was open to receiving suggestions on devising a liberal tax regime for the philanthropy sector.

However, he added that the focus of philanthropic activities should be on improving and extending the state provided health, education and other social services to all segments of the population.

“Though philanthropy was used as a tool to promote extremism in the society in the past, we should not ignore the fact that state-owned institutions lacked the service delivery system mainly in health and education sectors which provided extremists a chance to creep into the society,” Dr Mohmmad Iqbal said.

The seminar was attended by representatives from different walks of life including research and academic institutes, and various queries were placed demanding the need for improved tax regime and removal of trust deficit between the FBR and the private sector.

Some of the speakers criticised the incumbent government for stern regulations for the NGOs and the international NGOs which were involved in philanthropy.

Dr Iqbal said the FBR was already offering a number of incentives to organisations involved in philanthropic work, but the priority for the government was to invest in public sector service institutions.

He stressed that leaving public services to the NGOs or non-state players had its own unwarranted consequences, and the government had learned a lot in this regard, he said without explaining the consequences.

However, he reiterated that philanthropic activities had been used in the past by some extremists to make inroads into the society, which has led the government to devise and enforce ‘foolproof’ regulation, to discourage philanthropy as a tool to be used for political or nefarious designs.

At the same time the FBR member expressed concerns over low tax payment by the rich.

“Unfortunately the privileged classes were not paying their share of taxes and there was not enough money available to invest in underprivileged segments of the society, what we need is to redress structural defects of the system,” he added.

nwhile, Shazia Amjad, Executive Director, Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), presented a research carried out by the PCP that citizens of Pakistan give around Rs240 billion annually to various kinds of charities.

Dr. Shaharyar Toru of SDPI, Ayesha Khan, Country Director, Hashoo Foundation, Pakistan and Dr. Zafar Qadir, Chairman Social Action Consortium and Taleem Foundation also addressed on the occasion.