FBR officers revolt against reform plan

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, almost 23 chief commissioners of Inland Revenue in a meeting with Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Shabbar Zaidi demanded that the government withdraw the proposed reform measures for the tax authority within two days. But they were not clear on their course of action after two days should the government fail to comply with their ultimatum.
In various conversations with Dawn, a couple of them mentioned the word ‘strike’ or raised the possibility of a “pen down strike”, but refrained from issuing any such threat collectively. It was the second meeting of the top tax officers within the past couple of days in which they expressed their reservations over the proposed move.
Soon after the meeting taking to Twitter, the FBR chairman thanked all the chief commissioners of Inland Revenue of IRS for what he called a “very productive meeting.”
Give two-day deadline to withdraw measures; demand more say in future plans
“Restructuring /transformation of FBR will be undertaken after taking into account feedback of all the stakeholders” he went on to promise in the tweet. “Whole organisation including all levels of staff, will be taken into consideration.”However, chairman FBR was approached on telephone but he was not willing to be quoted on the issue. “There is nothing to worry about it,” he said, adding that he has already stated that reforms will be undertaken in consultation with all stakeholders including IRS.
He also insisted that FBR is on target with regard to revenue collection and dismissed talk of a growing revenue shortfall, pointing out that revenue growth was 16 per cent in the first four months of the fiscal year.
Under the reform measures being considered by the government, it is proposed to abolish the post of 23 chief commissioners who head the regional tax offices (RTOs) and Large Taxpayers Units (LTUs) across the country. As a result, 174 commissioners will now be required to report to member Inland Revenue operations directly.
A statement issued after the meeting by IRS Officers’ Association began by voicing support for the creation of a unified Pakistan Revenue Authority, as envisioned in the government’s reform effort, but disagreed with the administrative structure that is proposed for the body.
“IRS supports the documentation drive and are part of this drive and would remain so, and fully support harmonised General Sales Tax and ensure the political government to extend all support in implementation of these reforms” the statement said.

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