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July 5, 2020

Govt opts for stopgap arrangement to fill FBR chief’s slot

Top Story

July 5, 2020

ISLAMABAD: After replacing Chairperson Nausheen Javaid Amjad, the government has preferred placement of stopgap arrangement and appointing Javed Ghani of Customs Group as ad hoc Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for three months.

The major change at the top of the FBR has occurred at a time when the tax collection machinery claimed to surpass its revenue collection by Rs82 billion that touched to Rs3,989 billion till June 30, 2020 against the-time revised target of Rs3,908 billion for last fiscal year 2019-20 which ended on June 30, 2020. It was considered as an achievement of the outgoing FBR chairperson FBR.

Now it has come on the surface that the government paid Rs70 billion refunds through supplementary grants so it would become part of expenditures, but it would not deduct from the gross revenue collection of the FBR. In reality, the FBR collection was close to its revised target for the last financial year. “It happened first time in the country’s history that the refund amount was made part of supplementary grant,” said the official sources, and added that the budget deficit might escalate further then envisaged in revised estimates for last financial year 2019-20.

The FBR high-ups, when contacted, replied that it was part of financial package of Rs1.2 trillion so the government paid Rs70 billion refunds through supplementary grants to offset the affects of COVID-19 pandemic.

Its fourth consecutive appointment of the FBR head during the last two years of the PTI-led regime as first the PTI had appointed Jehanzeb Khan and then Shabbar Zaidi and then Nausheen Javaid Amjad. Now the government has placed ad hoc Chairman Javed Ghani for period of three months till the appointment of regular chairman.

It’s quite strange that the government did not appoint any permanent chairman but preferred to place stopgap arrangement. With uncertainty about continuity of tenure, it is not yet known how the new acting chairman will be able to perform according to best of his abilities. The notification to this effect was issued here on Saturday as the federal cabinet granted its nod on summary through circulation.

There are several reasons for removal of the FBR chairperson such as she will be retiring next year without completing of full financial year 2020-21. But some insiders say that in high-profile cases the incumbent regime was not comfortable with the FBR chairperson.

Official sources told this correspondent that the outgoing chairperson did not have cordial relations with the FBR’s Member Inland Revenue (IR) Operation Mohammad Ashfaque who is considered very close to influential personalities of the PTI led regime. There is another reason that the outgoing chairperson could not establish good and cordial liaison and working relationships with her team that also became one of the reasons for early removal from this prestigious position.

According to notification issued by Establishment Division, the federal government has been pleased to assign additional charge of the post of Chairman FBR to Mohammad Javed Ghani, a BS-22 officer of Pakistan Customs Service, presently posted as Member FBR, for period of three months.

Another notification stated that Nausheen Javaid Amjad, a BS-22 officer of Inland Revenue Service (IRS), presently serving as Chairperson FBR, is transferred and posted as Federal Secretary National Heritage and Culture Division, with immediate effect and until further orders.

When contacted, Nausheen Javaid said that she felt fulfillment for securing the top position of Federal Secretary. She said that she had performed best to her abilities during her tenure.

However, the sources said that the frequent changes into the fold of the FBR were not good omen for the tax collection machinery. Now the government has given ad hoc charge to the newly appointed chairman so it will be hard for him to perform in this ongoing quarter (July-Sept) period when the IMF was closely watching performance of all sectors of the economy with special focus on the FBR collection.