29 Injured As Passenger Train Hit Cargo Train In Punjab

Twenty-nine people were injured, when a passenger train collided with a cargo train in Pakistan’s east Punjab province this morning, state-run rescue organisation, Rescue 1122 said.

The incident happened at 4:30 a.m. (local time), due to possible negligence of the railway staff in Sheikhupura district of the province, Muhammad Ateeq, shift-in-charge of Rescue 1122 Headquarters in the provincial capital of Lahore, said.

“The railway staff failed to switch the track for the passenger train and it kept moving on the track where the cargo train was already parked,” Ateeq said.

The passenger train was running at a low speed, which led to the low intensity of the crash, and most of the people got minor injuries in the accident, he added.

“Twenty-seven injured people were administered first-aid at the site, while two critically injured were shifted to hospital,” he added.

Sources from Pakistan Railways said, a team was investigating the cause of the accident at the site, and strict action will be taken, if it turns out to be the negligence of the railway staff

Source: Nam News Network

Iran, Maldives Resume Diplomatic Ties After Seven Years

Iran and the Maldives announced yesterday, the resumption of diplomatic relations after a seven-year hiatus.

The decision was made “in line with the two nations’ interests and aspirations,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The announcement came, after a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Maldivian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Khaleel, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

In May 2016, the Maldives, a supporter of Saudi Arabia, ended its diplomatic relations with Iran, following Riyadh’s earlier decision to sever ties with Tehran, in Jan of the same year.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and the Maldives is part of a wave of normalisations in Iran’s relations with other countries, that began in March, when Tehran and Riyadh reached a groundbreaking Beijing-brokered agreement to resume diplomatic ties and reopen their embassies and missions

Source: Nam News Network

Iran ‘serious’ about restoring nuclear deal

Iran is ready to seriously consider returning to full compliance with a key 2015 nuclear deal if the other parties to the pact, including the US, will reciprocate, the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry has said. The signatories to the landmark agreement have been trying to revive it following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018.

According to a statement on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Tehran remains in touch with the US and that the plan for salvaging the deal proposed by Oman “is still on the table.”

“If the other parties are ready, we are serious about returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the minister said.

He added that Tehran has had good consultations with Guterres on the JCPOA, particularly when it came to the prisoner swap between Iran and the US, as well as the release of the Middle Eastern country’s frozen assets in South Korea.

The JCPOA – which was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the EU – put certain restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear industry in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. In 2018, however, then-US President Donald Trump torpedoed the deal by unilaterally withdrawing Washington from the agreement after denouncing it as fundamentally flawed.

The parties engaged in talks to revive the deal in 2021 after US President Joe Biden signaled that Washington would like to return to compliance. Despite initial progress, however, the marathon negotiations reached an impasse, with Iran demanding guarantees that the US would not withdraw from the deal again. Meanwhile, Washington accused Tehran of not negotiating in good faith.

Despite these setbacks, Iran confirmed this summer that it had held indirect talks with the US in Oman on the nuclear deal, with the Arab state presenting its initiatives seeking to bring the two sides closer.

Earlier this week, Iran agreed to release five American citizens in exchange for the US releasing an equal number of Iranians. The deal also included the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue in South Korea, which has since been transferred to banks in Tehran.

Source: Russia Today

At Least 30 Injured in Pakistan Wreck

At least 30 people were injured when a freight train and a passenger train collided in eastern Pakistan early Sunday.

Authorities say an investigation has been launched and that one train’s driver, his assistant and two other workers have been suspended following the collision.

Railway official Shahid Aziz said the incident happened in Shaikhupura district near Qila Sattar Shah station. He said most of the injured passengers had been treated at the train station and those with more serious injuries had been transported to hospitals.

Railway crashes are common in Pakistan because of railways’ aging infrastructure.

Source: Voice of America

FBR Asked to Extend Income Tax Return Filing Deadline As Experts Cite Technical and Legal Challenges

Tax Bar Associations, chartered accountant firms, tax advisers, and tax experts have approached the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for an extension in the last date for income tax return filing up to October 31, 2023, due to technical and legal issues in return filing.

Last week, the FBR issued system generated-SMS to all the taxpayers on September 24 “Dear taxpayer, please file your income tax return for FY-2023 at the earliest. The last date to file a return is 30th September 2023, which will not be extended.”

The Karachi Tax Bar Association has informed the FBR about a new IT glitch in IRIS, which prevents it from responding to notices

This new glitch in the system has emerged recently and pertains to the inability of the taxpayer to respond to notices issued by IR Officers (IROs) following the modifications of orders in appeal orders by the Commissioner Inland Revenue- Appeals (CIR-A). As you would know after a CIR-A modifies an assessment order, the concerned IRO issues a notice to the taxpayer for further proceedings, for whom there is currently no option available within the IRIS 2.0 to submit his reply or response.

Farhan Tariq of FB Consultants told to ProPakistani that IRIS 2.0 is currently experiencing technical issues. Specifically, he highlighted instances where certain files are opening in the previous format, while others are displaying the new format. Additionally, he noted that the import feature for Tax Year 2022 portal data from previous returns is not functioning as intended, and there are challenges in adjusting refunds from previous tax years.

FBR Chairman was also informed by the Karachi Tax Bar Association that the data from the previous year’s wealth statement was suddenly absent/removed from the current year’s statement.

“This abrupt change has created unparalleled hardship and is causing inconvenience for the taxpayers. We have always held the belief that Information Technology (IT) should serve to alleviate the burdens of taxpayers. Unfortunately, the current state of IRIS 2.0 appears to be doing the opposite by causing frustration,” added the association.

When contacted, Asif S Kasbati, Pakistan Business Counsel Core Tax Committee Member, elaborated that as per section 118, (a) Individuals and Associations of Persons having the year from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023 and (b) Companies having year-end between January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022 are required to file tax year (TY) 2023 return on or before September 30, 2023 as per law.

However, owing to September 30, 2023 falling on Saturday, being a public holiday, the due date would be Monday (October 2, 2023), keeping in view the General Clauses Act.

Kasbati anticipated an extension in the return filing date up to October 31, 2023, owing to 4 major reasons:

Return Draft and final deadlines missed by FBR and PRAL;

Several Issues in Return and partly resolved

Expected Load on IRIS

Less than 1 million Returns filed for TY 2023 while about 4.8 million returns filed for TY 2022 filed while Quantity Matter.

Kasbati, ICAP Fiscal Laws Committee Member elaborated that the Return Draft and final deadlines were missed by FBR and PRAL. He stated that the FBR/PRAL was supposed to upload draft return form on IRIS by November 15, 2022 and the final one to be notified by January 31, 2023 (and to the extent of Finance Act 2023 changes about TY 2023 by July 7, 2023).

In spite of the same, there was a delay as the draft and the final return form were issued on June 19 and June 27, 2023, respectively (over 6 months delay) and the return forms were uploaded on IRIS thereafter by the PRAL.

Regarding several issues in return and partly resolved, he stated that through PTBA Letter of 2.9.23 highlighted Resolution/Correction of Technical/Practical Issues/Problems and IRIS predefined formulas in the Income Tax Return/Wealth Statement Forms for Tax Year 2023.

KTBA raised several issues regarding IT returns in their letters. As a result, the Wealth Statement and Section 7E issues were only resolved on September 2, 2023, while assurances were given to PTBA, etc., that the remaining issues would be addressed.

According to the law, these issues should not have arisen had the FBR/PRAL completed their preparations at least three months in advance.

Kasbati also recalled that ” The annual sales tax return deadline is also on 30.9.23 which will increase workload from 27.9.23 to 30.9.23. IRIS was not working (like 15.8.23) or slow for a certain day and is likely to be working very slowly from 27.9.23 to 30.9.23 as the Taxpayers face this issue almost every year; as we understand that IT system issues are still not fully resolved.”

It is expected that a minimum of 5 million returns will be filed for TY 2023.

Kasbati and Co, a Karachi-based tax consultant, expects that fewer than one million tax returns have been filed so far. This expectation is primarily due to the recent resolution of the Wealth Statement issue and Section 7E issues, which were addressed only on September 2, 2023. Consequently, the FBR would prefer not to have 80% of taxpayers classified as non-compliant.

He also predicted that “Phase-wise Extension like last year TY 2022 and several issues as mentioned above, we can safely predict that the FBR will extend the deadlines till November 30, 2023, however, as a first step, will grant general extension to October 31, 2023.”

Given the aforementioned circumstances, Kasabti recommends submitting your Income Tax Return as soon as possible by September 30, 2023, to avoid any Default Surcharge, Penalties, and notices. This advice is in line with the FBR’s SMS notifications to taxpayers, which clearly state that no extension will be granted.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that FBR Offices and Departments will remain open on September 30, 2023, until 8 p.m., despite it being a Saturday, as per the FBR Circular.

As a compliant taxpayer, he suggested that in the absence of an extension Circular, it is recommended to submit an online extension application with proper reason keeping in view section 119 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Thailand express readiness to finalize FTA with Pakistan

Thailand has expressed its readiness to finalize a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan.

Interacting with business community in Islamabad, Thailand's Ambassador Chakkrid Krachaiwong said negotiations on Free Trade Agreement between the two countries have already reached final stage and now it is up to Pakistan to expedite it.

He said both countries should focus on promoting bilateral investment to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

He invited Pakistani business community to display their products in Thailand Industrial Fair to be held in January next year, to improve their business prospects.

Source: Radio Pakistan