CEO Des Pardes Interview


Existing tax system termed a big challenge for businesses


ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani-American entrepreneur and investor, associated with hospitality/food industry in Pakistan, has termed existing tax system of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as a big challenge for existing and new businesses, suggesting taxpayers need to be honoured/recognized for improving revenue collection of the FBR.

In an exclusive chat with Business Recorder Chaudhry Toquir Ahmed, chief executive officer (CEO) of Des Pardes Saidpur Village, Islamabad, he emphasized that a slight recognition of taxpayers by FBR instead of harassing them will not only attract fresh investment, but also help in improving the tax compliance of the existing taxpayers.

He was of the view that FBR must cautiously exercise enforcement powers against the taxpayers, who are regularly contributing revenue to the national kitty. FBR’s field formations should avoid exercising powers to issue notices, sealing of business premises and attachment of bank accounts on groundless basis and tax demands worked out without considering the factual businesses volumes, profits and earnings of any business.

If enforcement powers are exercised without fulfilment of legal formalities, it would send a negative message to the existing investors as well as discourage the new businesses in all over the country.

He highly appreciated the role of the office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) in providing genuine relief to the taxpayers against the maladministration of the tax department.

When asked about his role as withholding tax to collect 17 percent sales tax from costumers and deposit the same in FBR account, he stated that the FBR should give some service charges to the withholding agents for collecting taxes on behalf of the government.

Toquir, also got an MBA degree from Kansas State University, besides masters certification in hospitality management from Cornell University in US, is optimistic about the future of food and restaurant business in Pakistan if investor’s friendly business environment is provided.

He decided to invest all his savings in Pakistan with the hope to get a positive response but according to him, the government departments dealing with the business are yet to go a along way in facilitating foreign inventors.

Talking about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Pakistan especially those expatriates, keen to make investment in the country, he said should be facilitated by FBR, Capital Development Authority (CDA) and law enforcement agencies.

“What an investor needs is secure environment to achieve his goal and be able contribute to the economy of the country, which could only be possible if the concerned departments extend their support and cooperation,” he maintained.

However, despite all the obstacles, his contribution of setting up an excellent food outlet – Des Pardes – which provides best services to its customers – both national and foreigners – were not acknowledged by the concerned departments, making tall claims of facilitating the investors.

He maintained that he had preferred to work in Pakistan instead of US and brought small foreign investment in Pakistan at a time when it needed it the most.

However, he regretted that the government failed to address the problems faced by foreign investors by not implementing the standard operating procedures (SOPs), formulated for providing a friendly business atmosphere to the investors.

Toquir said that he not only designed the kitchens of Pearl Continental Hotels – a chain five star hotels in Pakistan – but also led the chef teams there for many years.

He also trained various youngsters as chef and helped them in getting jobs in hospitality management sector.

He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan visits his restaurant once in a week which reflects the quality of food of his team is providing to people.

“Not only Imran Khan, other top government officials, film actors and people belonging to different walks of life are his clients,” he added.

Toquir said that he conceived the name of the food outlet from visiting student of National College of Art (NCA). The restaurant is not only providing quality traditional food to parliamentarians, diplomats and other high officials but also providing employments to a number of locals.

He said that the outlet was offered to him on a 33-year lease some 13 years back by the then chairman CDA Kamran Lashari and he built infrastructure of Des Pardes and Saidpur village – a small locality comprising some 21,000 populace from various ethnic groups.