Nausheen to lead FBR amid big tax revenue shortfall

Updated April 07, 2020

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Amjad replaces Shabbar Zaidi officially, had been looking after the office of chairman while the latter was on leave.
Amjad replaces Shabbar Zaidi officially, had been looking after the office of chairman while the latter was on leave.

ISLAMABAD: Amid massive tax revenue shortfalls during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the government on Monday appointed Nausheen Amjad chief of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

At the same time, the cabinet also approved termination of the honorary/pro-bono appointment of Shabbar Zaidi as FBR chairman with immediate effect.

The post fell vacant in February when Mr Zaidi went on an indefinite medical leave only days after resuming office on Jan 21. In his absence, Ms Nausheen, who was posted as FBR administration member, has been looking after the office of chairman as well.

Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed Mr Zaidi as FBR chairman in May 2019 with a vision that he would bring about desired reforms and work towards achieving the revenue collection target of Rs5.5 trillion projected for the current fiscal year.

Eleven months later, the federal cabinet through circulation on Monday approved the summary of a selection committee that unanimously recommended Ms Nausheen, a BS-22 officer of Inland Revenue Services (IRS), for the position of FBR chairperson with an immediate effect.

High-ups in the FBR believe that delay in the filling top positions of member operations in IRS and Customs in the board has caused uncertainty within the tax department, leading to revenue bleeding on a daily basis.

Names of several bureaucrats were in circulation for the FBR chairman appointment including the name of Tariq Mehmood Pasha of IRS, currently serving as Secretary Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Director General Customs Intelligence Zahid Khokhar, Member Customs Policy Javed Ghani and Additional Secretary Finance Ahmed Mujtaba Memon.

According to a source, PM Khan himself approved Ms Nausheen’s appointment as the chairperson of the FBR. The delay in the appointment of the chairperson and a special assistant on revenue was blocked by a powerful group close to the prime minister, the source said, adding that the reshuffle in cabinet and other key decisions taken on Monday would also pave the way for the appointment of special assistant on revenue.

Adviser to the PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Hafeez Shaikh also gave his nod for the appointment of a special assistant on revenue to look after the revenue division affairs under his supervision, the source said.

According to the source, the new chairperson has been tasked with the removal of all officers with tainted reputation and to replace them with competent and honest officers. The new chairperson would discuss with the finance adviser the postings and transfers of officials, the source said, adding that the PM was not happy with the news in circulation about alleged corruption within the tax machinery.

Cumulatively, the FBR missed tax revenue targets by a whopping Rs470bn during the nine-month period from July 2019 till March 2020, as the total collections during the period reached Rs3.050 trillion against the revised target of 3.520tr.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020