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November 8, 2019

‘Proposed PRA setup ill-conceived reform plan’

Business

November 8, 2019

KARACHI: A meeting of 120 officers of the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) has termed the government decision to set up Pakistan Revenue Authority (PRA) an ill-conceived reform plan, which would lead to further deterioration of the service as well as the national economy, a statement said on Thursday.

The meeting of officers association unanimously agreed that the IRS was in support of meaningful and transparent reforms aimed at creating a viable automated and effective revenue organisation.

However, the officers showed their concerns to the discreetly and secretly approved haphazard reform plans which have apparently been prepared by non-service elements. “It is neither any detailed plan nor it is legal in the strict sense of the constitutional and statutory impediments in the federal setup of the country,” the statement said.

It said that the IRS was the largest service rank and was equipped with on-job training with necessary professional skills for effective tax collection given the country’s socio-economic ground realities.

“The reforms in revenue or in any state body, if experimented without involving the stakeholders as well as being oblivious of the ground realities, are bound to fail,” it added. In this backdrop, the concerns were raised that the under discussion reforms could not be perceived to bring any betterment, rather the reforms would end up in creating confusion and uncertainty.

“It would frustrate the pace of tax collection which is much needed for defence and development of the country,” the release said, adding that it would also frustrate the documentation and revenue drive against the Benami transactions/properties, tax assets held abroad, and weaken the case of Pakistan in the FATF proceedings.

The officers said these reforms were aimed at creating a controversial authority wherein non-civil servants could be hired representing business communities and professional organisations, which might encourage tax avoidance and evasion instead of revenue collection.

“The reforms were perceived as a kind of coup against the willing, professional, sound and hands on experienced professionals of IRS who, despite business friendly tax policies, have raised tax revenues to five times in last ten years and that too with limited / meagre resources, with no financial autonomy.”

It said: “The ill-conceived reforms agenda is bound to be detrimental to the revenue collection efforts thus affecting overall conditions of the national economy.” The participants found that reforms under discussions conveyed the impression of some conspiracy hatched by non-professionals in a conniving and shabby manner, which would lead to further deformation and deterioration of the service as well as the national economy.

The officers expressed their solidarity with the chief commissioners of IRS for raising this issue at Chief Commissioner Conference held recently in Islamabad.

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