12 March 2023
New FBR Rules for Real Estate to curb Money Laundering
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has notified rules for recovery from Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) under money laundering cases. The rules will apply to the DNFBPs which includes real estate agents, jewelers and accountants notified through SRO290 of 2023 released this week. FBR is the Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regulatory authority for DNFBPs real estate agents, jewelers, dealers in precious metals and precious stones and accountants, who are not members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan and the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan.
Under the rules, every DNFBP will be registered with the FBR and will provide all information to the tax machinery. It includes, but not limited to, criminal records of the senior management and beneficial owners and maintaining records of customers to check money laundering transactions. The rules empowered FBR to issue regulations, directions and guidelines for DNFBP. FBR can also impose sanctions, including monetary and administrative penalties to the extent and in the manners as may be prescribed, upon their respective reporting entity, including its directors and senior management and officers, who violate any requirement under the AML/CFT.
Pakistan National Clean Air Policy
The federal cabinet this week approved Pakistan’s first National Clean Air Policy, briefed by the Ministry of Climate Change in a meeting. During the briefing, it was further informed that air pollution has become a big problem in Pakistan and 235,000 deaths were reported due to air pollution in 2019. “Air pollution has reduced life expectancy in Pakistan and the problem of smog in winter has also become dangerous,” the cabinet informed. The participants in the meeting were also told that the National Clean Air Policy would help in reducing air pollution in the country. A National Action Committee would be formed under the policy and a technical committee would provide support to the committee.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman said: “This policy was the need of the hour which has been formulated in consultation and partnership with all stakeholders. It aims to reduce air pollution in Pakistan, improve air quality, reduce annual deaths, improve citizens’ health, increase economic activity and ensure food security.” According to the World Bank, she said, air pollution in 2013 caused an economic loss of $47.8 billion in Pakistan, which was 5.88% of the GDP, therefore “We needed a comprehensive policy to reduce these losses. All losses can be mitigated by the technical and administrative measures of this policy,” Sherry Rehman added.
Case of Bahria Town Karachi 2
A Sindh High Court’ bench has directed Bahria Town Karachi (BTK), Sindh Board of Revenue (BoR) and the Sindh forest & wildlife secretary to submit mother entries of entire subject land i.e. entries made in record of rights in the names of original allottees. The division bench of Sindh High Court`s Hyderabad circuit was comprised Justice Nadeem Akhtar and Justice Khadim Hussain Tunio was hearing case about BTK-2 land in Thano Bula Khan. The Petitioner submitted in court that the BTK-2 land in Thano Bula Khan is situated on Karachi-Hyderabad side of M-9 and close to highly sensitive defence installations and claimed that the project could undermine and compromise defence of Pakistan. Therefore, he prayed the court to form a joint investigation team to physically survey and investigate title and ownership of land, alleging that the project was being executed on state/public land and entries shown in the scattered pieces of land of BTK-2 were bogus.
In its counter affidavit, the BTK submitted in court that the PAF Base Bholari was not located close to the project. In most cities of Pakistan, army bases and cantonment areas were surrounded by or located near civilian housing societies, such as the GHQ in Rawalpindi which was within the city`s centre. The respondent pointed out that the Faisal Air Base and Masroor Air Base are also located within the centre of Karachi, while other housing projects were also being executed adjacent to the respondent`s project. Therefore the counsel argued and prayed that the petition was liable to be dismissed. The bench directed Bahria Town Karachi (BTK), Board of Revenue (BoR) and the Sindh forest & wildlife secretary to submit mother entries of entire subject land i.e. entries made in record of rights in the names of original allottees.
Indictment in Nesla Tower Case
An Anticorruption court this week indicted 18 people, including officers of the Sindh Building Control Authority and office-bearers of the Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society, in a case pertaining to encroachment upon a thoroughfare, where the now demolished Nasla Tower was illegally built. The 15-storey commercial-cum-residential building on Sharea Faisal was demolished on the directives of the Supreme Court for having been built in violation of laws. Those who have been booked for illegal construction of Nasla Tower by occupying 341 sq-yards of a service road along Sharea Faisal include the building`s land owner, the project`s builders, former SBCA Director General, Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society officials, Master Plan Department Director and Deputy Director, their subordinates and other officials. The provincial anti-corruption court judge read out charges to accused persons, who were present before the court on bail.
It is significant to mention that after the demolition of Nesla Tower in 2021, the Supreme Court ordered authorities to take action against those officials who had issued the construction permit for the illegal 15-storey Nasla Tower in Karachi. The court also ordered the anti-corruption department to register a case against those involved in approving the building plan, besides directing the police to register a separate case against the officials.