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Plan to name ex-babu as TRC chief raises eyebrows

Plan to name ex-babu as TRC chief raises eyebrows

ISLAMABAD: Tax experts and legal wizards have expressed astonishment over the government proposed planned appointment of a retired bureaucrat as head of the Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) and described the move as the government’s backtracking from its commitment to revisit the tax policies.
As per reports, the government is considering people for the job who are experts in public finance but have no relevant experience in tax law and its application. According to reports, the names of former federal finance secretary Moeen Afzal and former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Hussain as people being considered. Both men have considerable authority in their fields but lack experience in tax law.
The names of both the former bureaucrat have been proposed after fruitless attempt to hand over the helm to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman.
According to analysts, despite the presence of experienced professionals like former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha and tax lawyer Dr Ikramul Haq, the government’s desire to grant the responsibility to a retired bureaucrat suggests insincere efforts.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced to constitute a TRC aimed at rationalising all the taxes to run the system with transparency.
Dar acknowledged the need for carrying out an in-depth analysis and review of the tax policies and administration of the country. The minister had also announced that the members of the commission will comprise of public finance experts, practitioners, businessmen, tax lawyers and retired civil servants.
While addressing a press conference this week, Dar said that the government would notify the commission before end of this month.
Meanwhile reports added that the government has been contemplating the appointment of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry chief and four provincial chamber presidents as members of the proposed commission. But none of them are experts in the field of tax and their inclusion in the current system may be a deterrent to point out deficiencies.
The heads of these business bodies are also members of the Tax Advisory Council (TAC) that the government has constituted before presentation of this year’s budget.