ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday removed from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) 25 officers, who were in higher pay grades of 21 and 22, on the basis of the input from three intelligence agencies about their financial integrity and competence.

Among those who have been ousted included the top tier members of the board, chief commissioners and a former FBR chairman, who was already without a position for the past two years.

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

In place of those purged out of FBR, the government has made transfer and postings of 25 FBR officers. They include those who are below the par but are serving at key positions of the ‘A’ category postings.

It was the first such drastic step being taken by a democratically elected chief minister of the country to weed out the officers having either tainted reputation or were lacking in competency as well as public dealing.

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

It was also the second time in less than a week that the premier decisively took action to give a clear message about his commitment to make the FBR a reformed organisation.

Earlier, the premier suspended a senior FBR officer for his negligence in following a court case.

The suspended officer is also among the 25 FBR employees, who have been found lacking on multiple professional counts.

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

Another 12 officers who were either already having no positions or are working on deputation in other ministries were recalled.

A cabinet member told The Express Tribune that in the first phase grade 21 and 22 officers have been removed from their positions 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 agencies are giving the final shape to their names.

Out of the 25, 14 tainted or incompetent officers in the eyes of the intelligence agencies belong to the Inland Revenue Service and 11 to the Customs Group.

There were eight officers of the Inland Revenue Service and Customs Group who were on deputation. However, the premier has asked for their immediate repatriation from the law ministry, maritime affairs ministry, Establishment Division and the State Life Insurance Corporation to that they could be appointed as officers on special duty (OSDs) 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 had ordered the three intelligence agencies and the FBR top management to assess the top tier of the tax machinery on the basis of their financial integrity, competence and public dealing.

On the basis of the input from the intelligence agencies, the government divided the FBR officers serving in grade 20 to 22 in four categories. The clean and competent officers will be given the top positions of the members, chief commissioners and chief collectors.

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

The premier seems willing to take a hit on the revenues for the sake of improving the standing of the rotting tax machinery.

Sources said now only category ‘A’ officers of good reputation as well as skills would be given the FBR’s top managerial positions including the members of the board, chief commissioners, commissioners, chief collectors and collectors.

The category ‘B’ officers will relatively receive less important positions.

The category ‘C’ officers will be sidelined.

The category ‘D’ officers were removed on Friday and placed in the administration pool of the FBR, meaning that they are without any position.

PM Shehbaz personally made sure that action was taken against all these officers by denying them any posting.

The PM’s Office further instructed the FBR to write letters to immediately call back those officers who were serving on deputation in other ministries and appellate tribunals.

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

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

The government was in the process of finalising the replacements of these top positions that could not be kept vacant because of their importance in revenue collection.

The sources said that in the second phase the category ‘C’ officers would be sidelined from their positions.

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

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

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will pay the fee to McKinsey for its consultancy services.

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

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

The negotiated full and final proposal from McKinsey and Company was presented to the committee. The body gave the mod to grant the contract to McKinsey and Company and commencing the project.

The meeting concluded with the agreement on the next steps for commencement of the process of digitisation of the FBR’s operations through collaboration between board and the private sector for a digitally empowered tax ecosystem in the country.



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