PM cleans FBR from corrupt officials

PM cleans FBR from corrupt officials

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dismissed 25 Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials, who were in the higher pay grades of 21 and 22, based on inputs from three intelligence agencies about their financial integrity and efficiency.

Among those who have been removed include the top board member, the chief commissioner and the former chairman of the FBR, who has been out of office for the past two years.

Their replacements are from among those who have been declared competent and righteous by the three intelligence agencies, according to government officials.

In place of those removed from the FBR, the government has made the transfer and placement of 25 FBR officers. They include those who are below par but serving in important posts in ‘A’ category broadcasting.

It is the first drastic step taken by the country’s democratically elected chief minister to remove officials with tainted reputations or lack of competence and public affairs.

The move signifies the government’s commitment to put the FBR house in order.

It is also the second time in less than a week that the prime minister has taken decisive action to give a clear message about his commitment to make the FBR a reformed organisation.

Earlier, the prime minister suspended a senior FBR official for his negligence in following the court case.

The suspended officer was also among the 25 FBR employees, who were found deficient in various professional charges.

On the advice of the Prime Minister’s Office, the FBR on Friday issued a notice of removal of 13 officers, who were serving in grades 21 and 22 with immediate effect.

A total of 12 other officers who either no longer have positions or are on duty as deputies in other ministries have been recalled.

A cabinet member told The Express Tribune that in the first phase grade 21 and 22 officers were removed from their posts belonging to both the Inland Revenue Service and the Customs Group.

In the second phase, grade 20 officers will be removed from the FBR and the intelligence agency will finalize their names.

Of the 25, 14 officers who were tainted or incompetent in the eyes of the intelligence agency belonged to the Internal Revenue Service and 11 from the Customs Group.

There are eight officers of the Inland Revenue and Customs Service Group who are on duty as deputies. However, the prime minister asked them to be repatriated immediately from the ministry of law, the ministry of maritime affairs, the Establishment Division and the State Life Insurance Corporation so that they can be appointed as officers on special duty (OSD) to take authoritative action against them in the form of their removal. Four other officers are already working as OSDs in the board.

PM Shehbaz has directed three intelligence agencies and the top management of the FBR to assess the top tier of the tax machinery based on their financial integrity, efficiency and public affairs.

Based on input from intelligence agencies, the government divided FBR officers serving in grades 20 to 22 into four categories. Clean and efficient officers will be given the highest posts of members, chief commissioners and chief collectors.

The federal government has taken a bold step by sacking these officials, just weeks before the new budget and in the middle of the peak revenue collection season.

The Prime Minister seems willing to hit revenue in order to improve the position of the rotten tax machinery.

Sources said that now only category ‘A’ officers who have good reputation and skills will be given top management positions of FBR including board members, chief commissioner, commissioner, chief collector and collector.

Category ‘B’ officers will relatively receive less important positions.

Category ‘C’ officers will be set aside.

The ‘D’ category officers were released on Friday and placed in the administrative group of the FBR, meaning they do not have any post.

PM Shehbaz personally ensured that action was taken against all these officers by denying them any post.

The PM’s office then instructed the FBR to write a letter to immediately recall the officers who served as deputies in other ministries and the appellate tribunal.

The 21 grade officers who have been removed include Input-Output Coefficient, director general accounting, chief commissioner Karachi, director general Internal Audit, member policy, former FBR chairman, appellate tribunal accountant member, executive director State Life Insurance Corporation, member customs operations, chief director of Law and Prosecution, director general of Customs Valuation, chief collector of Karachi valuation, customs technical member and customs appellate tribunal technical member.

Some of these officers have faced pertanyaan in the past, but FBR never took any action against them.

The government is in the process of finalizing the replacement of this top post which cannot be left vacant because of its importance in revenue collection.

The source said, in the second phase, category ‘C’ officers will be removed from their posts.

Among them are the director general of the investigation and intelligence wing of the FBR and a grade-22 member of the Inland Revenue.

Besides, the government on Friday also appointed McKinsey and Company, a globally renowned consulting firm, for the digitization project.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will pay McKinsey a fee for its consulting services.

The federal finance minister was briefed on the procurement process, which involved technical evaluation by an approved committee comprising senior FBR officials and technical experts from Karandaaz Pakistan.

McKinsey and Company emerged as the top bidder after a comprehensive evaluation of technical and financial aspects.

A full and final negotiated proposal from McKinsey and Company was presented to the committee. The body gave the mode to award the contract to McKinsey and Company and start the project.

The meeting concluded with an agreement on the next steps to start the process of digitizing FBR operations through collaboration between the board and the private sector for a digitally empowered tax ecosystem in the country.

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