Wednesday October 27, 2021

Conflict of interest in FBR Policy Board member’s appointment

The new member of the FBR Policy Board Dilawar Khan owner and executive director of Souvenir Tobacco Company

June 02, 2021
Senator Dilawar Khan. Photo courtesy

LAHORE: The federal government appointed Senator Dilawar Khan as member of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Policy Board in glaring conflict of interest as he is owner and an executive director of one of the local big tobacco companies and successfully lobbied and played vital role in bringing down the advance FED tax on Green Leaf – a measure taken by the government to control tax evasion in cigarettes manufacturing.

The appointment is made on the nomination by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani after Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi became Senate’s deputy chairman, who was previously nominated for the position on the Board. The FBR Policy Board is an important platform in policy making especially for broadening the tax base, controlling the tax evasion and other tax facilitations and increasing revenue generation measures. The FBR Policy Board also plays vital role in making decisions on the federal budget regarding taxation on multiple products inclusive of cigarettes.

Interestingly, the new member of the FBR Policy Board Dilawar Khan owner and executive director of Souvenir Tobacco Company, openly violated the tobacco control laws. On the tobacco control laws violations, the company owns one of the biggest local brands Melburn which is openly selling at Rs40 per pack lower than minimum price fixed by the government at Rs63 per pack. Further, the government has imposed minimum Rs44 per cigarette pack as tax while it is being sold below than the mandated tax amount imposed by the government.

Another violation which he openly committed in Senate by presenting cigarettes by the name of Senate which was not taken positively by the members of Senate as Dilawar Khan violated multiple laws of related tobacco control which included, unauthorised use of government of Pakistan’s seal on a cigarette pack, free sampling of cigarettes which is prohibited and illegal, distributing cigarettes without the graphical and textual health warning mandated by the government.

Questions were sent to the Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani while responding to the question of The News, spokesperson of the Senate said there are 100 senators. Any of them can be nominated by the chairman for an oversight role to any committee/board. Generally, the members are nominated for parliamentary oversight based on the basis of their expertise so they were in better position to give their input in various boards according to their expertise. Since the role of the Senate and senators is parliamentary oversight and an accountability of the executives and stop wrongdoing of any, so all 100 senators are eligible to be placed in any board. Thus, the senators are placed in various boards on the basis of their expertise in the sector in order to oversight the working of the sector.

In the case of appointment of Senator Dilwar Khan as member of the FBR Policy Board on the basis of his expertise, the conflict of interest will be questioned when the senator gets any benefits from the position he was appointed at or found involved in any wrongdoing related with the board. If no such incident occurred than appointment of the senator as member in FBR Policy Board is not a conflict of interest, he added.

When contacted, Dilawar Khan in a brief call said it was not conflict of interest while reporting that cigarette is selling lower than minimum price fixed by the government is not journalism. “This is not journalism – journalism is to see outside the world,” he said, adding that if his appointment is conflict of interest then Razaak Dawood and all other businessmen in politics is also conflict of interest.