ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to launch a crackdown on corrupt officials working with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and associated institutions.
As an initial measure, the FBR has established a dedicated Integrity Management Cell to probe corruption and embezzlement in the department and to identify corrupt officers.
According to officials, the cell will be equipped with a helpline to assist taxpayers in filing complaints against corrupt officers of the FBR and its sub-departments. In addition to this, written complaints can also be filed with the cell by visiting the facility.
After hearing from the complainant and conducting initial scrutiny, the cell will confirm the authenticity of the matter before launching a formal probe.
Both filers and non-filers of tax returns can register their complaints against officials of the FBR, Inland Revenue Service and Pakistan Customs Service by visiting the cell, emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the helpline (111-772-772).
In addition to the initial evidence, the complainants are liable to provide their credentials and contact numbers on the basis of which action can be taken.
About 50 officers working with the FBR are reportedly facing different charges and inquiries while many others have been promoted despite serious allegations against them. Due to this, the department has come in for a lot of criticism.
Many key figures in the government, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Finance Minister Asad Umar, have repeatedly pointed fingers at the tax collecting authority in public meetings and events.
Officials revealed that previous governments had also established a similar integrity unit and a whistleblowing helpline in the FBR, but they did not provide much benefit due to weak enforcement measures.
In addition to the new cell, the FBR has also a system of internal audit for accountability and valuation of assets held by department officials. Under this system, the officers are required to provide details of assets held by them and their family members annually.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he would personally oversee the audit of FBR officials. He voiced hope that if the newly formed Integrity Management Cell turned out to be effective, the department would be able to tackle corruption.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2019.