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FBR autonomy remains distant dream

FBR autonomy remains distant dream

ISLAMABAD: The FBR has failed to achieve desired results due to unending political inference.

Almost all governments be it current or the past had never been willing to grant administrative autonomy to FBR since they fear that FBR action against tax dodgers may cost them politically and economically. There are hundreds of factories, mills and restaurants which are collecting GST from the public but not depositing in national kitty. The FBR is unable to take enforcement action against them due to dearth of manpower.

The power to hire manpower in FBR lies with the government which can in turn collect billions of rupees through enforcement actions. In 2007 Finance Bill, there were sections to make FBR fully independent and autonomous but when the bill was approved, all such sections were missing. Abdul Yousaf was FBR chairman then. There is a big question that if the government is serious in taking action against tax evaders, then why it does not make FBR independent? If the government is scared of corruption spreading at lower level, then it should make internal accountability system within FBR strong. The current FBR Chairman and the Board members have the ability and capacity to make FBR strong and powerful since many officers are foreign qualified from Oxford, Colombia and Harvard universities. The energy and potential of these officers can be utilized for positive purposes.

It is a common practice at FBR that many ministers, senators and MNAs meet FBR chairman and board members for out of way work of theirs friends. The FBR officers handle these issues in their own style. Recently, a minister of the current government himself visited a FBR member for out of way work of his businessman friend .The minister could not remain fully successful. However, the Board member gave his friend some relaxation. According to FBR officers, they can collect revenue worth Rs 5,000 billion to Rs 7,000 billion and Pakistan will not need to borrow money from IMF or any other financial institution if the government makes FBR powerful and independent in the real sense of the word.