Daily The Business

FBR gets new chief at odd times

 

Jahangir Hayat

In the wake of the time just before the Budget 2019-20 reshuffling of
even a second secretary FBR is considered as risky & unprofessional, the Federal government has removed the head of its premier revenue collecting agency i.e. the chairman of FBR that too in an an indecisive manner, as earlier Government approved name of an in-service senior officer of Pakistan Customs & later backed out for a tax consultant. This last minute decision could lead to disastrous consequences to say the least as both the budget making and arresting the trend of nosediving revenue collection are expected to be badly affected.

The news of resignation and removal of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa and FBR Chairman Dr Jahanzeb Khan came as a huge surprise. Who will be the governor of the central bank and chairman of the FBR were the staggering questions. Everybody seemed to know the answers of these question.

Rumors became reality when Dr Raza Baqir was notified as the new governor of SBP and the government has withheld the notification of Ahmed Mujtaba Memon’s appointment as the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman.

The notification was ready to be issued on Saturday night but the government suddenly decided to withdraw it. It is said that adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Hafeez Shaikh had picked Mujtaba Memon as the new FBR chairman in place of Jehanzeb Khan.

Memon, an officer from the 15th Common of the Customs Group, is currently serving as the Additional Finance Secretary in the Q-Block, Islamabad.

However, on Monday afternoon it came with another big surprise when the announcement was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan during a conversation with senior journalists in Islamabad that a tax consultant & Chartered Accountant Shabbar Zaidi was appointed chairperson of FBR.

Why Ahmed Mujtaba Memon, who is known to be the upright and honest officer in the Customs circles, could not be appointed as Chairman. It has been reported that a case of asset beyond means is said to be the main cause which afterward was decided in favour of Mujtaba Memon. The case against Memon was said to be fabricated by some influential circle of an important Government agency, to teach him a lesson for not deciding a Customs case as dictated by the circle in someone’s favours.

Finally it has been announced by the PM that Shabbar Zaidi has been appointed as the chairperson of FBR. The appointment of Zaidi is being as something unusual as he is not from any service of Pakistan.

At the first how can he being a private business consultant appointed as the chief of a service for which competition is a must and for which advertisement in newspaper for the job is mandatory. Then again age limit is also an issue for the candidate for vying for the seat if someone comes to challenge the appointment in superior courts.

Some see the reshuffle at this point of time a hasty decision on the part of the government as the shortfall is not something new as every year targets are given and they are seldom met and even have to be revised. The out-going chairman FBR should have been given time to complete the financial year at least.

Now that a new FBR chairman has been appointed the target of revenue collection still may not be met due to one reason or the other including the slowdowns in Pakistani economy as well as in the international. Secondly, the new chairman has a sufficient ground to pass the buck which may jeopardize all the efforts to meet the revenue
collection target which the government cannot efforts or thegovernment is cognizant of all the possible outcomes in the results of the removal and appointment of FBR chairman and that too at such the crucial juncture.

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