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Corruption Suspect Awarded Key Position In FBR

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ISLAMABAD: Chaos continues at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) under the new chairperson Nausheen Javaid Amjad. Major transfers and postings were announced on May 13, ostensibly without her consent, awarding a key position to an AJK Accountability Bureau (AB) suspect Mr Qaiser Iqbal.

According to a notification issued on Wednesday, Mr Qaiser Iqbal was ordered to assume charge as Chief Commissioner-IR, Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU), Lahore, replacing Dr Ashfaq Ahmad Tunio who had assumed charge of Lahore’s LTU only last Wednesday.

Mr Qaiser Iqbal is an AJK AB suspect whose arrest warrants were issued in July 2012 ‘for allegedly indulging in massive corruption and irregularities of millions of rupees through misuse of powers’. Iqbal was serving as Commissioner Income Tax, Excise & Sales Tax in AJK at the time.

AJK AB had raided his office ‘to recover and confiscate the required official record pertaining to the advance payment of millions of rupees in a mega-contract and other irregularities’, The Nation had reported on July 28, 2012.

Naya Daur Media has learned from its sources that this transfer has taken place without the consent of Chairperson Nausheen Javaid Amjad. “On May 12, the chairperson was at the finance division to attend a meeting and learned upon her return to the FBR Headquarters that a notification, ordering the transfer of some key officers, had been issued without her knowledge. She ordered the removal of the notification from FBR’s website but a new notification was issued the next day”, sources privy to the situation told Naya Daur Media on the condition of anonymity. Interestingly, the new notification is still not available on FBR’s website.

Similarly, Syed Nadeem Hussain Rizvi, who had been appointed Member (IR-Operations) in Islamabad in the notification issued on April 30, has been transferred to the Taxpayers Audit department in the notification issued 13 days later.

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“The person newly appointed as Member IR Operations, Muhammad Ashfaq, has almost no field experience, which makes him unfit to handle this challenging assignment responsible for the collection of nearly 80 percent of the revenue”, an insider told Naya Daur Media. The source further stated that Muhammad Ashfaq had appeared on the media during the early days of the PTI government, claiming that he was going to sign an agreement with Swiss authorities to bring back billions of dollars hidden in Swiss accounts but he was stopped by the then Chairman Tariq Bajwa from doing so. Later, he could not prove that the Swiss government had made any such offer.

FBR insiders claim that transfers and postings of senior officers in such a haphazard manner is unsettling for the department. They further claimed that circles close to the prime minister were issuing such orders, thereby undermining the autonomy of the tax collection agency. They believe that such decisions undermine Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tax reforms agenda. The current chairperson is the third since Khan has taken over as PM. Nausheen Javaid Amjad had been appointed Chairperson of FBR on April 8, 2020, after Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi refused to continue as chairman earlier this year.

“Awarding key positions to incompetent persons and corruption suspects can further derail the reform agenda and set wrong precedents”, said an insider who does not wish to be named.

However, it appears the government’s anti-corruption drive has already ended as it is planning to appoint tainted persons as directors of government companies. “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has promulgated a Presidential Ordinance to clear those people who have entered into plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for their appointment as directors of private as well as government companies”, reported The Express Tribune on May 13, 2020.

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