FBR Officers Raise Alarms Over Recent Organizational Reshuffle

FBR Officers Raise Alarms Over Recent Organizational Reshuffle

Islamabad, May 2, 2024 – Tensions are high within the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) following a recent organizational reshuffle that has notably disturbed the operations of both the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and Pakistan Customs Service (PCS).

Officers from these departments have formally expressed their dissatisfaction and concerns to the tax authorities regarding what they perceive as non-transparent and arbitrary placement of senior officers into the FBR’s Admin Pool.

During a recent meeting with Amjad Zubair Tiwana, the Chairman of the FBR, representatives from both the PCS Officers Association and the IRS Interim Committee presented their grievances. These concerns were later publicized through a series of statements on social media.

This organizational shift includes the controversial transfer of Afaq Ahmed Quershi, a prominent FBR member recently promoted to grade-21 and recipient of the President’s Award (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz) for his pivotal role in negotiating terms with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Quershi’s reassignment to the Admin Pool is seen by many within the FBR as a demotivating signal to other officers, at a time when their efforts are crucial for meeting government revenue targets.

The associations representing the officers stressed that these reassignments have created a climate of uncertainty and intimidation, arguing that the reshuffling process overlooked established legal and regulatory procedures for addressing issues of inefficiency, misconduct, or integrity. Despite the challenging economic conditions, the field formations have continued to collect revenue, yet the reassurance of recognition and the enforcement of the state’s writ by the authorities appear to be lacking.

The Chairman of the FBR responded by affirming that while transfer postings are governed by governmental prerogative, the placement of officers in the Admin Pool was a directive from higher authorities. He promised to arrange a Zoom meeting for all officers of Customs and IRS to clarify the situation and has also proposed to facilitate a meeting with the Prime Minister, where officers can voice their concerns directly.

The officer associations emphasized that their members strictly oppose any corrupt practices, but insist on the necessity for a more cautious and transparent approach to accountability, particularly when potential conflicts of interest are at stake with other stakeholders. The reshuffle has been criticized as undermining the operational environment and could potentially jeopardize the achievement of revenue targets, especially critical now as only two months remain in the fiscal year 2023-24.

This ongoing conflict within the FBR highlights deeper issues of trust and morale among tax officers, who view the recent administrative changes as not only detrimental to their departments but also to the nation at a broader level. As the situation unfolds, the outcome of these tensions will be critical in determining the effectiveness of Pakistan’s tax collection efforts during a period of significant economic challenges.