Search for new FBR head begins

Updated February 20, 2020

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FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi is on an indefinite medical leave. — DawnNewsTV/File
FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi is on an indefinite medical leave. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Amid massive tax revenue shortfalls, the government has decided in principle to appoint new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and five senior officers from the tax groups are in the run for the top slot, Dawn has learnt from knowledgeable sources.

FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi is on an indefinite medical leave.

High-ups in the FBR believe that delay in appointment of officers at top positions in the board has caused uncertainty within the tax department leading to revenue bleeding on a daily basis.

At the same time names of officers that take rounds in the Prime Minister Secretariat for consideration to be posted as FBR’s new head include two officers from the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and three from Customs Group (CG).

The name of Tariq Mehmood Pasha of IRS, currently serving as Secretary Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, is under consideration. Acting chairman and Member Customs Ms Nausheen Amjad is another potential candidate for the top position.

On the Customs side, potential candidates are Director General Customs Intelligence Zahid Khokar, Member Customs Policy Javed Ghani and Additional Secretary Finance Ahmed Mujtaba Memon are under consideration.

A source in the Prime Minister Secretariat told Dawn that government has almost finalised the appointment of Haroon Akhtar Khan as Special Assistance to Prime Minister on Revenue likely to be notified in the next couple of days.

The premier has tasked the incoming revenue adviser to remove all officers with tainted reputation and replaced them with competent and honest officers.

Soon after Mr Akhtar’s appointment, the source said, a major reshuffle is expected in the IRS and Customs Group. “The premier want an end to corruption within the FBR”, the source added.

Last week, the former PML-N senator gave a briefing to the prime minister and his economic team and pointed towards policy failures as the contributory factor in the rising food inflation.

Mr Akhtar served as a revenue minister in the Nawaz Sharif government.

According to the sources, the prime minister has given a free hand to Mr Akhtar to carry forward the World Bank sponsored tax reform project, which is yet to be initiated fully despite lapse of projected target.

Similarly, the new adviser is also given a mandate to raise maximum revenue as part of compliance to the IMF programme.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020