FBR Officers Demand Transparency Amidst Reshuffle Turmoil

FBR Officers Demand Transparency Amidst Reshuffle Turmoil

Karachi, May 2, 2024 – The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is currently embroiled in controversy following a significant reshuffle of its senior officers, leading to widespread demoralization and discontent among its ranks.

The reshuffle, which saw numerous officers reassigned to less influential positions, has sparked allegations of unfairness and lack of transparency.

The controversy erupted after the FBR issued Notification No. 1088-IR-I/2024 on April 26, 2024, reassigning 12 officers, including five senior members of the Pakistan Customs Service, to the FBR Admin Pool as Officers of Special Duty (OSD). The government justified these moves by citing failings and allegations of corruption among the officers involved. However, the Association of Officers of Pakistan Customs Service has challenged these actions, arguing that they were taken without clear criteria or due process.

In a strongly worded letter to the FBR chairman, the association claimed that the decision has caused “state of agony” among the staff, accusing the FBR of not adhering to the legal processes outlined in the Civil Servants Act, 1973, and constitutional protections. They emphasized that no formal inquiries had been conducted nor had any specific charges been officially leveled in a legally prescribed manner.

The letter also revealed that the reshuffle was part of a broader assessment involving 25 senior officers, some of whom were on deputation or already positioned at FBR Headquarters. Surprisingly, the assessment included all officers who were part of the FBR’s restructuring efforts.

Further aggravating the situation, it was disclosed that the FBR, alongside some intelligence agencies, had used an opaque and arbitrary system to categorize officers based on integrity, with any negative rating in one category leading to a demotion. This method has been criticized for its lack of evidence and absence of opportunity for the officers to contest the findings.

In response to the growing unrest, a General Body Meeting was convened on April 30, where officers expressed their frustration and called for corrective measures. The association’s letter outlined several demands, including a detailed explanation of the categorization process and criteria used, a Zoom session to clarify the circumstances leading to the reshuffle, and a press conference to address the media portrayal of the affected officers.

The association’s leadership has urged the FBR to halt further reassignments based on the criticized evaluation system and to adhere strictly to legal procedures for addressing any alleged inefficiencies or misconduct.

The FBR chairman has been given a three-day ultimatum to respond to these demands in a bid to restore trust and morale within the organization. The outcome of this confrontation remains uncertain, but it is clear that the resolution of this issue is crucial for maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of Pakistan’s principal revenue collection agency.