— Omer Zaheer,CFA,FCCA (@OmerZaheerMeer) April 23, 2017
Peace be on you!
It’s with extreme pleasure that I announce that the prestigious Exceptional Public Value Award is to be awarded to myself by Ms. Helen Brand, OBE, CEO ACCA (the largest accountancy body globally). I’ll share the details with you after receiving the award, Insha Allah.
I’m honored by this privilege and grateful to ACCA for the recognition of my:
“contributions in the field of Budget and Taxation including but not limited to
- the drafting of Anti-Graft Legislation focused on Undisclosed Foreign Income & Assets which was later adopted by the Treasury,
- work done on the Regional Research Study on Indirect Taxation across South Asia and UAE,
- MOU’s with Tax Bars,
- Collaborations with Chambers of Commerce and Tax Bars,
- Pre & Post Budget proposals and seminars,
- continued member education events particularly on Taxation and
- opportunities created through R&I sessions with key employers.”
Last but not the least, I’m thankful to you all for your support and prayers particularly my parents, siblings, mentors, colleagues and friends.
Omer Zaheer Meer
Peace be on you,
It is with pleasure that we share that ACCA, the largest accountancy body in the world recently published a detailed report on our firm Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC) and recognized it as the pioneer ACCA practicing firm in Pak. You can directly access it at: ACCA’s published profile of MLCC
or continue to read below and let us know your valuable views.
Millennium Law and Corporate Company (MLCC) becomes the Pioneer ACCA practicing firm in Pakistan
Profile of Millennium Law & Corporate Company
- 30 + Years’ “Young”
Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC) has a background of thirty (30) years plus history of professional excellence stemming from its parent practice. It used to be focused solely on legal practice including corporate matters.
- Way Forward – One stop solution
MLCC was expanded to include a new division for providing ACCA centered services. This led to the inclusion of the areas of taxation, corporate services, internal audit, advisory, risk management and trainings in addition to the other legal matters within the services offered by MLCC.
The firm is setup with specialized teams dealing with relevant areas under four (4) partners, two of whom are ACCA members while one is an ex legal advisor Federal Land Commission (Government of Pakistan) and another is an ex deputy Attorney General of Pakistan.
- Pioneer ACCA Practising Firm in Pakistan
In 2015, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) took a giant leap in Pakistan and initiated practising license program for the country.
- MLCC became the pioneer practising firm in Pakistan with
- Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA (the managing partner of MLCC) being awarded the first ever ACCA practising license in Pakistan.
Before that history was made when:
- Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA became the first ever ACCA member to get admitted to the prestigious Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA) during 2009/10.
- He was later joined by his brother Mr. Ali Zaheer Meer ACCA who is now a partner at MLCC and another ACCA member at LTBA.
Millennium Law & Corporate Company has built a reputation for quality services based on value creation and issue resolutions with time-specified deliverables. It is now the premier ACCA practising firm in the country and one of the leaders in the taxation, advisory and corporate services sectors.
- Distinguished Collaborations
MLCC through its partners is currently represented at the Taxation Committee of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chairing the Liaison and sitting on the publication committees of LTBA, Chairing the Taxation Committee of ACCA, Global Tax Forum of ACCA and several think-tanks including Hamdard Thinkers’ Forum and Millat Thinkers’ Forum. MLCC’s clientele also includes some of the most distinguished names. Out key clients and/or associations are as below:
Read the rest of this section directly at: ACCA’s published profile of MLCC
Why was MLCC started?
Managing Partner’s Views:
It is my strong and educated belief that the ACCA qualification and a proper training program equips one with the relevant skills, education and expertise to be the best not just technically but on the value addition side of being an entrepreneur.
With an early start to my career resulting is sufficient experience, I felt it was the right time to launch an ACCA practising firm on my return from UK to Pakistan. Also it was an opportunity to contribute back to the profession and ACCA fraternity in several ways.
However ACCA did not have a local practising license back then. Nevertheless we upheld the brand ACCA and pioneered in an area deemed alien for ACCA members at the time, i.e. local taxation. Within a short span of time we stood out of the crowd delivering excellence and quality beyond norms of the market. We then started expanding into other areas such as corporate services, advisory, risk management, e.t.c. with equally good results.
The milestones so far
Since becoming the pioneer ACCA practising firm in Pakistan some of the major milestones achieved by MLCC are outlined below:
- Establishment of our non-legal services headquarter at the prime location of Bashir Mansion, 2 Turner Road, Lahore which is opposite FBR, close to Appellate Tribunal, behind Lahore High Court, adjacent AG Office and practically in the hub of all the action.
- Establishment of a branch office in DHA, Lahore for facilitation of our clientele from the posh areas.
- Award of the practising license and hence becoming the pioneer ACCA practising firm in Pakistan
- Joining of Mr. Ali Zaheer Meer as the second ACCA partner of the Firm
- Expansion intro value addition areas beyond taxation including internal audit, advisory, risk management, corporate services, e.t.c.
- Start of our training division
- Partnership with ACCA Pakistan for the CPD trainings of ACCA fraternity and beyond
- Attendance of our CPD programs and training events by high-profile professionals including owners, directors and even non-ACCA partners of other renowned firms
- Publication and launch of a research study on indirect taxation across the MESA (Middle-East and South-Asia region) in collaboration with ACCA and EY
- Working with top names in various sectors including the likes of National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, MPDD, ACCA, LCCI, KCCI, LTBA, e.t.c.
- Pre-launch of our ACCA trainees induction program
Advantages and benefits of ACCA firms
ACCA firms offer several benefits for the ACCA fraternity, the business community and the society at large. Some of the major ones include:
- Opening up of new horizons and opportunities
- Jobs creation
- Quality services
- Greater acceptance of ACCA locally
- Entrepreneurial rewards
- Increased collaborations with worthy partners
- Greater exposure
With the advent of CPEC and the corresponding developments, there is a lot of potential for quality accountants and firms offering the right services. Yes it will be challenging but the rewards are more than commensurate. So have a dream and turn it into a reality.
The following article has been published in Daily Nation, dated 23rd February 2015
(E-Paper (Print Edition): http://nation.com.pk/E-Paper/lahore/2015-02-23/page-9 )
Taxation – Solving Pak’s Dilemma
By: Omer Zaheer Meer
We’re all aware of the fact that it cost money to run countries and these funds are raised by taxes. Taxation is therefore an essential subject warranting attention from all concerned. In this write-up we’ll identify key issues in this regard and propose solutions to solve them amicably which have been presented by me at various think-tanks as well as published and publicized but unfortunately still awaits implementation from the decision makers.
Taxation is an extremely important source of funding for any state to finance the running of the Governmental functions. Even the oil rich Arab states are now beginning to recognize the importance of this and starting to shift towards a lasting economy with citizens contributing to the national treasury with their share of the taxes. To put it simply in all global economies, there is taxation both direct and indirect (in different combinations). Direct taxation is a tax directly levied on an individual or business’s income while indirect taxation entails taxes on products and services whereby consumers are made to pay taxes when they consume these.
In developed countries, realizing that taxation is necessary for providing them with necessary facilities, most citizens contribute their share to the state finances. Direct taxation is the dominant part of the tax system in such countries as it accrues some substantial benefits for the economy, people and the state. Importantly, direct taxation allows richer segments of the society to be taxed more and poorer classes are provided with relief and benefits. This proportionate taxation not only help smooth the flow of money across various classes of the society but it also helps in ensuring that every citizen has a minimum living standard by providing state assistance where required.
However, a different story is at work in Pakistan. A culture of tax avoidance has long engulfed the business horizons. An ongoing cat and mouse fight between the tax authorities and the taxpayers, with the later believing that it would be a waste to pay off their tax bills due to the deep pockets of the corrupt government officials, has led to a greater focus on indirect taxation. While the tax and state officials rightly point out that no state can perform the necessary duties with the empty coffers, the tax payers also have their point in that they don’t see any real delivery of essential services but instead are greeted with stories of herculean corruption rife all around. The plague of corruption is widely believed to be consuming most of the available resources. Hence, there seems to be a massive break-down of trust between the taxpayers and the “tax-man”.
This serious trust deficit leads to a difficult situation where finance ministry overemphasizes on indirect taxation to try to bolster its coffers. Unfortunately this approach has serious negative ramifications for Pakistan’s economy and people which has manifested in worsening the already declining economic situation of the country.
In Pakistan, ordinary people are taxed indirectly on just about everything. Nowhere in the developed world is indirect taxation utilized as heavily as in Pakistan due to the negative effects that it creates for the economy. In Pakistan’s case (and that of many other developing countries following this strategy) the negative impacts far outweigh the contributions raised in this manner due to the missed opportunity costs.
For example, 25-30% had been routinely charged as an indirect tax on every liter of fuel (mainly Petrol, Diesel, e.t.c.) in Pakistan which is a basic necessity for everyday life compared to only 13% in the USA. This way of collecting taxes indirectly leads to inflationary pressures in the economy as the increased transportation costs translates into increased prices for just about everything including the commonly used commodities. The effects are hyper-inflationary in nature because there is a multiplicative rather than an additive element in the inflation passed-on at every level.
Furthermore the pay-rises are not proportionate to inflation thereby forcing people to rely on expensive credit to make their ends meet. Similarly businesses also require more finance to run their operations. This hyper-inflationary environment then leads to higher interest rate which negatively affects the businesses. With higher finance costs many business projects which would otherwise be viable becomes non-feasible. The resulting lack of employment opportunities combined with the limited money-supply puts recessionary pressures on the market. The above issues lead to the devaluation of the currency which in turn results in increased foreign debt burden. As a result, financing costs of the foreign debts rise leading to a higher proportion of GDP spent on debt financing. All this combined with hyper-inflation drags the already estranged economy further back in Pakistan’s case.
The above is a summary of the mess created by the taxation policies pursued by the previous government which are unfortunately continued by the incumbent finance ministry. The result is that while the standard of living of especially urban Pakistanis is generally considered well-off compared to most developing countries, Pakistan is considered to be lagging behind economically in the league of the nations.
What is actually required is to restore the faith of the taxpayers by implementing a multi-dimensional tax reforms agenda where:
- Taxpayers are encouraged and incentivized for paying taxes.
- Taxpayers are facilitated by making the process easier and fairer, focusing on maximum automation in order to stem out corruption.
- Instead of increasing the tax rates the tax net is constantly widened.
- More focus is given to direct taxation.
- Meaningful tax rebates and reliefs are introduced for the less able sections of the society.
- A system of proportionate taxation is adopted with more affluent contributing more to the treasury.
- Certain exempt sectors are brought into the tax-net (subsidies can be given for assisting any under-pressure areas/products).
- Tax rebates and incentives are introduced to encourage foreign/local investments in key sectors with tax-breaks for transfer of technology, e.t.c. as may be required in a particular sector.
- Tax money is actually spent on public welfare and infrastructure projects, which will improve the spending capacity and the business environment in Pakistan.
- The massive corruption in public contracts/projects, now routinely in the range of 40-50% of tender values, is eradicated for better and efficient use of public money through revamping the pay and accountability structures.
With all the natural resources at our disposal, a high proportion of population been young and hardworking and cheap labor availability, a fairer system of taxation culminating into a fairer economic policy can provide the necessary environment to harness the economic potential of Pakistan.
The key reforms outlined above, if properly implemented, can resolve the current enigma facing the treasury. Should such reforms be made with reliance on local resources and a will for change, there is no reason, why Pakistan cannot stand on its own feet and become an economic hub not only for the region but the whole world.
The writer is a leading economist who is also a qualified chartered accountant, financial analyst and anti-money laundering expert. He can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is an excerpt from an Express Tribune report on the now infamous hate-mongering by the Islamophobic Facebook CEO Mr. Mark Zukerberg:
“In his Facebook post, he said, “A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) that offended him.”
“As I reflect on yesterday’s attack and my own experience with extremism, this is what we all need to reject — a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around the world,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“I won’t let that happen on Facebook. I’m committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence,” he assured.
His response was: “It’s not against our policies to talk about Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). We did block the content in Pakistan where it was illegal, but we didn’t block it in the rest of the world where it is legal.”
Instead of very lengthy writeup exposing the hypocrisy of Mr. Zukerberg in detail, I’d just a raise a few questions to put the entire matter in perspective:
a) Clause 3.7 of Facebook’s terms of service states
“You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”
Why is it that the content even questioning Holocaust is removed & strictly penalized but DESPITE requests and protests by over 1.5 Billion Muslims, ridiculing of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (the most revered personality on the planet) is allowed which incites violence & promotes hate speech in VIOLATION of YOUR OWN TERMS of SERVICE?
b) While propagating Voltaire’s support for “freedom of expression” who said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” why do you choose to ignore Zechariah Chafee who said, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins”, that too ONLY in case of ISLAM?
c) By removing abusive content against Holocaust, e.t.c. but openly stating your support for ridicule of Prophet Muhammad PBUH & Islam are you promoting ‘Freedom of Expression’ or ‘Freedom for Some Expressions’?
d) Is it not true that the “CENSORSHIP” on Facebook has risen by 19% plus over the last year as per various NGO reports?
e) Is any person going to a court of law to challenge something they believe is illegal an extremist, just because they disagree with you?
e) Charlie Hebdo attack happened in France, then why did you choose to attack Pakistan at this time?
f) Why did you stay silent when children were massacred in Palestine by Israel and when 140 angels lost their lives in Peshawar?
g) Will you also classify Bill Donohue, President of the US Catholic League as an extremist and/or terrorist for issuing a statement in the light of the continuous provocations of Muslims that “Muslims are right to be angry.”
h) Is it not true that Facebook is a spy tool which transfers all the private data of its users to CIA & NSA WITHOUT the users even knowing?
i) Why is it that a cartoon of Condolezza Rice is termed as Rascism, a cartoon of Mark Zukerberg is called anti-Semitic but ridiculing of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (Nauzbillah) is termed as freedom of expression. What is it, if not hypocrisy of the highest order?
If you ponder over the above questions and the fact that even heads of states like the Queen are not allowed to be ridiculed but despicable competitions to ridicule the most revered person on the globe, Prophet Muhammad PBUH are held and supported, you can clearly see that ordinary peace-loving people are provoked and incited for vested interests.
I’ll leave it for you to decide whether such tactics are being used to further an agenda of “clash of civilizations” by provoking and inciting violence and as a result malign an already marginalized Muslim community?.
For all the above reasons, I urge not just all Muslims but peace-loving decent people of all religions to boycott Facebook and start using alternate platforms like Twitter, MillatFacebook, e.t.c.
I’ll end by stating that while Individuals should not resort to violence we must also condemn the senseless hypocrisy to provoke and incite violence. It is high time that all the nations sit together to resolve the issues arising out of the cultural and religious dis-similarities and fault lines. Let the peace prevail & DEFEAT hypocrite hate-mongers like Mr. Zukerberg hiding amongst us.
I demand that in line with Facebook’s own TERMS of service and respecting the emotions of over 1.5 Billion Muslims, Mark Zukerberg should remove the hate-mongering & violence inciting content ridiculing Prophet Muhammad PBUH.