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Author

Khawar Khan, journalist

There are a few things Omer Zaheer Meer is passionate about. He cares deeply about taxes; the importance of technological advancement, youth mentoring and ACCA's role in developing the accountancy profession in Pakistan.

Meer, who is managing partner for taxation and corporate services at Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC) in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, has a well-deserved reputation as a tax expert, trainer and mentor.

'The most rewarding part of being a practitioner is to help businesses to grow to achieve their potential'

Grow and prosper

‘It’s a very interesting arena to work in. Every day is exciting and brings new challenges and opportunities,' he says, adding that the greatest tasks lie in bridging the gap between businesses and regulators, such as the Federal Board of Revenue, as well as helping clients understand the importance of bringing technology into their work.

‘The most rewarding part of being a practitioner is to help businesses – especially start-ups – to grow to achieve their potential, to see them prosper and become successful enterprises,’ Meer says.

A matter of trust

As a veteran of ACCA's Global Tax Forum, Meer places high value on trust between taxpayers and tax authorities. He emphasises the need for simplicity, transparency, and objectivity in order to bridge the trust deficit.

The complexity of Pakistan's tax system is a key challenge for businesses. ‘It’s one of the most complicated taxation systems in the entire region,' Meer says, explaining that a series of constitutional amendments has devolved responsibility for some taxes to the provinces, a move ‘that has created a lot of challenges in terms of ensuring the ease of doing business along with a lack of harmonisation between taxation authorities.'

‘The taxation landscape has been evolving through technological advancements'

There is also a culture of non-compliance made worse by a complicated and subjective system that is both costly and time consuming. Key to improving compliance, Meer believes, is building trust. This can be achieved by showing taxpayers – in particular, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) – that taxes do not only benefit the national economy; they also support the development of a better business ecosystem.

‘The taxation landscape has been evolving through technological advancements,' he says. 'Pakistan is adopting technology-based systems – such as track and trace – and working with the latest devices. Nothing can be stagnant, certainly not in business.' Key areas of development include transfer pricing, blockchain, artificial intelligence, the use of robotics and data analytics.

Technology push

In order to transform Pakistan's business landscape, the rapid ramping up of the country's technological capabilities is essential.

‘Technology is something that is constantly evolving,’ he says. ‘In Pakistan, there are many businesses like MLCC that do appreciate and welcome changes. But there are some companies that do not have sufficient resources to invest, and others that are not yet educated on the positive impact that the developments could have on their businesses and the overall economy. Then there are concerns around confidentiality and acceptance of change, which need to be handled with care.

‘We still have to convince some businesses to allow us to use these technologies,' Meer says. 'When it comes to adopting technology in taxation, people are still very cautious.’ To counter this, Meer suggests that government support could go a long way towards strengthening public trust and the wider business ecosystem.

Volunteering

Meer is a highly-regarded tax practitioner in Pakistan and brings a wealth of experience to his role, much of it gained through his involvement with ACCA, which he was first introduced to by his father. He is chairman of the Members' Network Panel and was recently elected unanimously for a third term, which is testament to his long-term commitment as a volunteer in the ACCA community as well as the profession.

A member of ACCA's International Assembly, Meer also sits on a number of ACCA committees and forums, including the taxation sub-committee, which he chairs. He is a prolific writer whose technical articles are published in newspapers and research publications. And, as a representative of MLCC, he works with the government of Punjab to train high-level officials and law enforcement professionals in areas of finance and taxation.

In the wider tax community, Meer sits on the ACCA Global Tax Forum, which, he believes, is unique in terms of its exposure, its reach and the level of discussion. 'It’s extremely focused on the subject matter. We have the best brains from all over the world discussing the challenges, developments and solutions to tax problems,’ he says, adding that the forum's work is submitted to governments and thinktanks.

One area of discussion has been the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and how more green taxes might be introduced in order to limit dependency on fossil fuels, reduce misuse of water and cut down on pollution.

CV

2019
CEO, MLCC Trainings, Lahore, Pakistan

2010
Managing partner, taxation and corporate services, MLCC

2009
Faculty member, management and professional development department, Government of Punjab, Lahore

2009
Director, Meer & Mir, UK

2008
Acting director, Finance, Harada, UK

2006
Company accountant, Light IQ, UK

2005
Accountant to director of finance, Global IT & Telecom, London, UK

'We have the best brains from all over the world discussing the challenges, developments and solutions to tax problems'

Arsalan's Photography
Pioneering spirit

MLCC has earned the accolade of being a pioneering ACCA practising firm in Pakistan. When Meer took the decision to start a tax practice in 2010, the local tax regulator did not recognise his ACCA Qualfiication. Undeterred, Meer expanded the services of MLCC, which had been an established legal practice for over 26 years, by creating an accounting practice within the firm; Meer now leads the tax and corporate services team. Gaining a reputation as a specialist firm, MLCC was awarded the first ACCA practising licence in 2015, a milestone of which Meer is immensely proud.

‘ACCA has been a stepping-stone of my life, not just initially but at every corner of my career and professional development,’ says Meer, who is also an enthusiastic advocate.  ‘ACCA has provided me not just with the tools, knowledge and skillsets but also with a global passport and network.'

'There are always challenges in life, so do not ever be put off by the difficulties that you face'

Gift of education

Meer believes Pakistan's technology-savvy youth need the right support to dream up the next big firm, one that could potentially use technology to disrupt accounting or even the broader technology landscape. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and insight with young ACCA members, as a mentor through events and initiatives hosted by ACCA.

‘It’s very rewarding to see young professionals gaining the necessary training to grow and reach the peak of their careers,’ says Meer. ‘I believe that training and giving the gift of education to someone is one of the best ways to help humanity.'

‘I always try to fly the ACCA flag, promote our professional community and educate people about the complex concepts of economics, finance and taxation in a very simple manner to show how the profession can contribute to the betterment of Pakistan,' he says.

His advice to finance professionals is to stay focused. ‘There are always challenges in life, so do not ever be put off by the difficulties that you face. Remember your goals and believe in yourself. Do not be disheartened by any failures because they will only make you stronger.’

More information

Visit Practice connect, ACCA's new hub for small and medium practices

MLCC

38+
Years since MLCC was founded

2015
Year MLCC becomes first ACCA practising licensing firm in Pakistan

4
Number of partners

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