Shabbar Zaidi named chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue by PM Imran

Published May 6, 2019
Syed Shabbar Zaidi is a senior chartered accountant and a former caretaker provincial minister. Photo: Screengrab/Youtube
Syed Shabbar Zaidi is a senior chartered accountant and a former caretaker provincial minister. Photo: Screengrab/Youtube

Prominent chartered accountant and former caretaker provincial minister for Sindh, Syed Shabbar Zaidi, was named by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday as his choice for the new Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman.

The appointment has yet to be notified, but the prime minister said it will be soon.

Zaidi is a senior partner in A.F. Ferguson & Co, a member firm of global 'professional services' firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and has authored multiple books, including Panama Leaks: A Blessing in Disguise–Offshore Assets of Pakistani Citizens, A Journey for Clarity and Pakistan: Not a Failed State.

He is well versed in Pakistan's tax laws and the key policy matters governing fiscal strategy, corporate regulations and foreign exchange regimes and has written extensively on the subjects. He recently also advised the Supreme Court in a case concerning offshore assets owned by Pakistanis.

Read Shabbar Zaidi's article for Dawn: Analysis — The taxman's gaze

"It is said that taxes are the price of civilisation," he wrote in an article for Dawn in 2015. "There can be no state, and no rule of law, without proper revenue mobilisation. And revenues do not come walking through the door of the tax authorities. They have to be assessed and levied at the pain of penalty."

"If we bargain with this power to assess revenues, we are effectively bargaining away the writ of the state. The importance of documentation cannot be emphasised enough, and documentation will not happen by itself. It needs to be pushed, and every push will meet resistance. Overcoming this resistance is central to promoting the revenue interests of the state."

Zaidi will now have power to implement his vision for reforms in the country's tax machinery as he takes over the position left vacant by the unceremonious sacking of Jahanzeb Khan, the erstwhile chairman of the FBR.

Sources in the finance ministry, who were privy to the developments, had told Dawn that the former FBR chairman was viewed by PM Khan as ‘a mediocre person’ lacking dynamism, and was held largely responsible for the lacklustre revenue performance since his appointment.

The FBR is on course to register one of the highest shortfalls of its history by the close of this fiscal year, anticipated to come in above Rs350 billion.

The sources had said the recently appointed finance adviser, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, had agreed with the prime minister’s views on the ousted FBR chairman's performance.

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