Govt in search of new FBR chief

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Govt in search of new FBR chief

As soon as possible after Nisar Muhammad, the current chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), announces his intention to resign at the beginning of next year, the government has begun looking for a replacement.

The decision to remove the FBR chairman was made in response to accusations that a key member of his staff had given a partner of a chartered accounting company in Lahore a portion of the classified text of the Finance Bill 2016 before the June 3 budget speech of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The sources claimed that the matter was also known to the finance minister and that the FBR chairman was hesitant to discipline his officer.

Nisar could not be reached for comment.

However, the sources said that this might not be the only factor in any changes to the FBR’s top management.  The government replaced Tariq Bajwa, a member of the District Management Group (DMG), as the FBR chairman in November of last year by appointing Nisar Muhammad. With the appointment, the chairman position has once more returned to a civil service cadre under the FBR that had previously been seized by the DMG, now known as the Pakistan Administrative Service.

If the finance minister decides to appoint a replacement before Nisar retires in January 2017, Nisar may be appointed as the federal secretary. The government was once more examining the possibility of selecting the next chairman from the DMG cadre, but Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, opposed any such action, according to the sources.

According to them, Khan wished for the FBR to maintain command cohesion and wanted the chairman to come from within.

The Director General of Intelligence and Investigation of Inland Revenues Khawaja Tanveer Ahmad and Members of Operation Inland Revenue Dr. Muhammad Irshad and Rehmatullah Wazir of FBR are being considered for the top position. The oldest contender, Khawaja Tanveer, is from the 9th Common and is the most experienced. He knows customs and income tax matters.

Due to his standing as a “doer,” Dr. Irshad has the support of some of the top economic managers. Although many believed the aim was met as a result of collecting advances and preventing taxpayer refunds, he was instrumental in helping the government reach its Rs3.104 trillion tax collection goal for the previous fiscal year.

Compared to Rehmattullah Wazir, Dr. Irshad would retire in April of the next year.

Although the current FBR Chairman marginalized Wazir during the budget planning process, Wazir has a solid reputation as well. In terms of tax policy, Nisar favored Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, a Member of Strategic Planning, Reforms, and Statistics, over Wazir.

Younus Dagha, the secretary for water and power and a member of the DMG Group, is also a candidate for the position. However, sources claimed that the administration might not want to replace him because of his crucial role in reaching the goal of ending load shedding by early 2018.

To get to the highest basic pay scale (BPS) 22, Dagha must wait. While Tariq Pasha, the Special Assistant to the Finance Minister and Acting Secretary of the Statistic Division, could also be a candidate for the top FBR position, he is also younger than everyone else in the FBR who holds that position.

Document leakage

To help a private accounting firm fight for lower income tax rates for a government-controlled entity, sources claim that a key member of the FBR leaked the text of the Finance Bill 2016–17 to them.

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