FBR seeks PM’s nod to launch action against corrupt officers

Sends a summary requesting formal permission for disciplinary proceedings

Shahbaz Rana March 12, 2019
PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has formally sought permission of Prime Minister Imran Khan to launch disciplinary proceedings afresh against a dozen senior taxmen on charges of corruption and inefficiency - a development that is aimed at accountability in the tax machinery.

A fresh summary has been moved by the FBR this week, seeking action against nine serving officers of the Inland Revenue Service and Customs Group, a senior FBR officer confirmed to The Express Tribune.

Another four officers have retired before any action was taken against them due to stay orders taken by the officers facing inquiries. Their names have also been sent to the PM. The summary has been moved after the FBR got the stay orders vacated from courts that these officers had obtained to avoid disciplinary proceedings, the FBR officials said.

The FBR had already conducted inquiries against these officers but did not seek prior permission of the premier a few years ago - the procedural lacuna that these officers exploited to get stay orders from courts. The FBR had to wait for years to get the orders vacated. The charges against most of these officers have already been proved, according to the FBR’s documents.

Under the Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules of 1973, only the prime minister can authorise inquiries against the officers serving in Grade 20 and above. These cases have been pending for years as the FBR also lacked the will to go after these people.

There are six Grade-21 officers of the IRS and two Grade-20 officers. There is one officer of the Customs Group.

PM Imran has asked FBR Chairman Jehanzeb Khan to conclude these inquiries at the earliest. The FBR management is now targeting to conclude all these cases within three to four months, said the FBR officials. They said the majority of these cases were ripe for imposition of a major penalty like dismissal from service.

The FBR’s new administration has now decided to give overdue promotions to its officers besides concluding pending inquiries that have brought a bad name to the organisation.

The previous Senate Standing Committee on Finance had also taken up the issue of no action against the officers who were facing inquiries as of November 2015 under the Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules of 1973. The committee took up the cases of more than 150 officers who were facing charges of corruption, misconduct and inefficiency.

In addition to moving a summary to the PM, the FBR chairman and its new Member Administration Shad Mohammad have also started concluding inquiries against officers of up to Grade-19. An inquiry against a Grade-19 officer has already been completed on allegations of causing over Rs92-billion losses to the exchequer, the FBR officials said. Major penalty is likely to be imposed against him, he added.

Besides, the FBR has also dismissed three officials and two have been demoted.

There is also a need to amend the efficiency and disciplinary rules to ensure recoveries as nearly half-a-century-old rules do not allow recovery of embezzled money.

In its summary, the FBR has sought PM’s permission to initiate inquiry against a Grade-20 officer for causing a loss of Rs1.2 billion. But the matter remains pending.

The name of a Grade-21 female officer has also been sent to launch inquiry on the charges of giving undue favour of Rs429.8 million by deleting a demand that she herself generated after going through the record. The officer had obtained a stay order from court, although the FBR inquiry proved charges against her.

Similarly, the case of another female officer of Grade-21 was sent to PM for inquiry on allegations of giving Rs13.9-million benefit to a taxpayer. The FBR administration has also decided to give promotions to gazette and non-gazette officials who have been waiting for their promotions for years. During the past couple of weeks, it has promoted 138 officers to Grade-16 and 103 officers to Grade-18, according to the FBR.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2019.

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