FBR field offices show resentment on appointment of chairman from private sector

KARACHI: A massive resentment has been shown by the employees of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on nomination of a chartered accountant for top post of the revenue body.

The working at the FBR is at standstill following the nomination of Shabbar Zaidi as FBR chairman by the Prime Minister two days back.

The officers of the FBR are arguing that till today Shabbar Zaidi was helping his clients to avoid taxes if not evade taxes through aggressive tax planning.

“If he is appointed as chairman of the FBR then he will lead tax teams in the field to conduct audit of taxpayers including his clients to detect mis-declarations / under-declarations, tax avoidance and tax evasion,” a FBR official said.

There is no legal bar except that his appointment may be against the doctrine of conflict of interest, the official said.

There is no moral justication for employees of FBR to raise objection on his appointment as Section 3(3) of FBR Act, 2007 empowers the federal government to appoint any person as Chairman FBR on such terms and conditions as it may determine.

The official said that the only point on the basis of which Shabbar Zaidi’s appointment can be challenged by FBR employees is that the appointment may be in violation of doctrine of conflict of interest, which can only be decided by a court of law.

Shabbar Zaidi has been the Managing Partner of Fergusson in Pakistan and hundreds of companies audit have been conducted and completed under his supervision, advice, guidance and signature.

Those audited books of accounts up to previous five years would now be presented before his subordinate officers in the FBR and in the field formations.

What would happen if an issue of his client is brought before him under section 7 of FBR Act 2007 for settlement where in he himself or even his former Chartered accountant firm has completed audit, the official questioned.

Conflict of interest would still be there even if he assigns the case to any member of FBR for decision because he would be head of the office.

Other serious issue in his case would be that he can not be Secretary Revenue Division so the government has to have separate Secretary Revenue Division from the bureaucratic hierarchy most probably from PAS.

So working conditions may not be good for Shabbar due to probable resistance though he is highly competent and an extraordinary individual of strategic thinking and also very fair, honest and judicious.

The other technical hitch is that if Chairman FBR has to be brought from private sector then it has to be through open competition by giving advertisement in the press as ruled by the Superior Courts.

Another officer said that the appointment of FBR officials was made through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) in a transparent manner.

“An officer spends his entire life with hope that in reward to his judicious work he would become chairman,” the officer said, adding that the precedent set by the government would demoralize the FBR officials.

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