Senate Committee asks FBR to complete inquiries against corrupt officials within a year

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ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary panel on Friday directed the high ups of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to complete inquiries against corrupt officials within three months, while giving FBR a maximum of one year to wrap up all inquiries including ones with court stay orders.

The decision has been made in the meeting of Sub-Committee of Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue which was held under the chair of Senator Mohsin Aziz. The committee thoroughly analysed the grade wise list of all inquiries conducted by the tax department and action taken under the efficiency rules.

FBR member administration informed the forum that the department had started inquiries against the corrupt officials in 2013. He informed that the department held inquiries against grade 19 officers whereas the inquiries against grade 20 or above officers have been conducted with the approval of Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The panel in its first meeting discussed inquires of 19 officers who include Abdur Razaq Abro, Jawahar Ali Shah, Muhammad Hanif, Gulzar Ahmad, Faraz Alam, Anser Majeed and others on the basis of issuing bogus refunds and taking bribes from the business community.

The officials informed that Abdur Razaq Abro and Jawahar Ali Shah issued the bogus tax refunds worth of Rs 170 million and Rs 6.3 million respectively.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) completed the inquiry against Abro, holding him responsible for bogus refunds however the court later gave Abro relief. The convener instructed the member to re-launch the inquiry against Abro.

The committee was further informed that Muhammad Hamid was held responsible for corruption in 2014 but tax department did not initiate an inquiry against him.

On the other hand, Gulzar Ahmad had been alleged of taking extortion money from the business community while working in Customs intelligence. Gulzar has since been suspended and NAB is currently investigating the allegations against him.

Moreover, FBR member informed the committee that Faraz Alam had been arrested red-handed while issuing bogus sales tax refunds in 2013. Meanwhile, Faraz was later issued show cause notice in 2017.

Senator Mohsin Aziz said that corrupt officers are holding important positions in FBR whereas notices to such officers are being issued after a passage of four years. He further said that this implies that officials are providing their peers with a safe haven to hide their corruption.

The officials further informed that three hundred and thirty-three cases of corruption were reported to customs in 2013 and 2014. However, the department has only conducted inquiries into twenty-five cases.

Senator Saud Aziz said that no officer will get punishment as several officials involved in corruption hand in glove with the inquiry officers.

While replying to the senator’ query, the tax official told that courts have given stay order in many cases and without the help of the committee, we cannot solve these cases in near future.

The convener of the committee along with the committee expressing concerns over the slow process of inquiries directed FBR to expedite the proceedings and submit a report of all inquiries before Senate Standing Committee on Finance within three months.

During the meeting, FBR representatives informed that FBR was following a strict zero-tolerance policy against corrupt officers and assured that strict action would be taken against those involved in any kind of malpractice or negligence causing huge monitory losses to the national exchequer.

The meeting discussed in detail the grade-wise list of all inquiries conducted by the FBR and action taken under the efficiency and discipline rules, 1973 pending as on November 15, 2015, against corrupt officers of FBR along with their outcome as on September 31, 2017.

They said inquiries against officers involved in corruption and negligence was in process. However, he said that inquiries against some cases were pending due to stay orders issued by the courts.

It is necessary to mention here that the PM office had also sought information of corrupt officials two months ago. Subsequently, the tax department was reportedly given the list of three hundred officials but no further action has been done in this regard.