ISLAMABAD: With the start of new fiscal year, the government on Saturday appointed Muhammad Javed Ghani as chief of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for a period of three months.
At the same time, it also approved the transfer, after a brief period of three months, of incumbent FBR Chairperson Nausheen Amjad as federal secretary National Heritage and Culture with immediate effect.
The cabinet took these decisions and this will be the fourth head of the FBR since the PTI took office in July 2018.
Ms Amjad was initially given an acting charge of FBR chairperson since February 2020 when the post fell when the then chairman Shabbar Zaidi went on an indefinite medical leave only days after resuming the office on Jan 21.
Nausheen Amjad posted as Secretary National Heritage and Culture
In his absence, Ms Amjad, who was posted as the FBR administration member, had been looking after the office of chairperson as well. On April 6, she was appointed as the regular chief of the tax body on the recommendation of a select committee.
Sources in the Finance Division and the FBR told Dawn that Ms Amjad was removed from the slot on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, as he wanted to bring someone else on the top position. The notification reads Mr Ghani was given an additional charge of chairman for three months or till posting/appointment of a regular incumbent, whichever is earlier, with immediate effect.
Currently, Mr Ghani is a member of customs (Policy).
On the intervention of Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the premier agreed to post her as federal secretary, a position mostly available for officers of the Pakistan Administrative Services.
After assuming charge as regular chairperson FBR, Ms Amjad reshuffled senior tax officers across the country. Member Operation Seema Shakil and ex-member customs Jawad Agha were also removed from their positions along with two female senior officers, one each from Lahore and Hyderabad.
The sources said Ms Shakil was not comfortable or happy with the additional charge of FBR chief given to Ms Amjad. It was clear from the fact that the former initially applied for leave in the hope that the government will appoint a regular chairman or Mr Zaidi will resume office.
During these times, two unofficially likeminded camps emerged within the officers of Inland Revenue Service (IRS): one reportedly led by Ms Amjad while the other by Ms Shakil.
Meanwhile, Ms Amjad continued as acting chairperson FBR.
Upon her regular appointment, she transferred 81 senior officers including Ms Shakil and replaced her with Nadeem Hussain Rizvi as new member IR operations.
On May 13, the government reversed transfer of five officers and appointed Ashfaq Ahmad as new member IR operations in addition to his post as DG international taxes by replacing Mr Rizvi.
It is believed that Mr Ashfaq has developed good contacts within the prime minister secretariat during his tenure as DG international taxes. That post is very important in the FBR and for the government because it deals with the data of assets received from foreign countries under the Organisation of Economic Development tax convention.
According to the sources, Ms Shakil’s promotion was considered for BPS-22 in the last promotion board, but she could not get through. However, it is believed that she will be considered for it in the next board within a period of three months. The source maintained that she is now a strong candidate for the next chairperson FBR.
Another source said there are more changes under consideration to the economic team of the government. This may possibly include giving important positions to Planning Minister Asad Umar and Industries Minister Hammad Azhar as well as changes at the State Bank of Pakistan.
According to them, there is pressure on the government from general masses, within the ruling party and opposition, on the economic management of the ruling PTI.
The economy needs a quick start in the new fiscal year as leading international donors have projected a very bleak picture for the country compared to other comparable states in the region like Bangladesh.
The PTI had appointed Jehanzeb Khan as FBR chairman on August 29, 2018, by replacing Ms Rukhsana Yasmin, who was posted as the first woman chair of the board on July 2, 2018 by the interim government. On May 10, 2019 Shabbar Zaidi was appointed as the FBR chief and was replaced by Ms Amjad in February 2020 as acting chairperson and then as regular one on April 6.
The FBR has collected revenue of Rs3.989 trillion in FY20, which is Rs82 billion more than the revised target of Rs3.907tr while net revenue collection in FY19 was Rs3.826tr. For 2020-21, a target at over Rs4.9tr has been projected.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020