IR officers oppose proposed setup of Pakistan Revenue Authority

KARACHI: Senior officers of Inland Revenue Service (IRS) has strongly opposed the formation of planned Pakistan Revenue Authority (PRA) and said it will have negative effect on revenue collection.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of IRS Officers Association held on Thursday, which was attended by more than 120 IRS officers.

It was unanimously agreed that the officers were in support of a meaningful and transparent reforms aimed at creating a viable automated and effective revenue organization.

However, they showed their concerns over the discreetly and secretly approved haphazard reform plans which has apparently been prepared by non-service elements.

It is neither any detailed plan nor it is legal in the strict sense of the constitutional and statutory impediments in the federal setup of the country, according to a statement.

It said that the IRS is the largest service rank and is equipped with on-job training with necessary professional skills for effective tax collection given the country’s socio-economic ground realities.

The reforms in revenue or in any state body, if experimented without involving the stakeholders as well as being oblivious of the ground realities, are bound to fail.

In this backdrop, the concerns were raised that the under discussion reforms cannot be perceived to bring any betterment rather are to end up in creating confusion and uncertainty.

It would frustrated the pace of tax collection which is much needed for defence and development of the country,” it said, adding that it would also frustrate the documentation and revenue drive in place by IRS against the Benami transactions/properties, to tax assets held abroad and weaken the case of Pakistan in the FATF proceedings.

The meeting agreed that these reforms are aimed at creating a controversial authority wherein non-civil servants could be hired representing business communities and professional organization which might encourage tax avoidance and evasion instead of revenue collection.

The reforms were perceived as a kind of coup against the willing, professional, sound and hands on experienced professionals of IRS who, despite business friendly tax policies, have raised tax revenues to five times in last ten years and that too with limited / meager resources, with no financial autonomy.

They found that reforms under discussions conveyed the impression of some conspiracy hatched by non-professionals in a conniving and shabby manner which would lead to further deformation and deterioration of the service as well as the national economy.

The participants showed unflinching support and solidarity with the chief commissioners for conveying the IRS community’s concerns to the Chairman FBR during the Chief Commissioners Conference held recently in Islamabad.

Simultaneously, the house also expressed solidarity and support to the lower pay scale employees of IRS and assured them their concerns with regard to service conditions in the proposed reforms programme would be conveyed to the higher ups with the suggestion that representatives of these employees should also be made part of the consultative/inclusive process.

The meeting ended with the resolution reiterating that the IRS officers and employees are not against reforms but the process should be inclusive giving due weightage to the concerns of all the stakeholders.

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