ISLAMABAD: The government after taking the decision of appointing the new chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), has withheld the notification after facing criticism from various quarters.
A placement committee, according to an official at Ministry of Finance, will now be reviewing the matter on Monday, May 6.
According to sources, a placement committee, constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan few months ago, will decide about the next chairman of FBR, which is already facing historic shortfall of over Rs350 billion in revenue generation this financial year. The committee may also discuss other proposed names for the important post.
A committee for placement and screening of high officials, sources say, was constituted by the prime minister, under the chairmanship of Dr Ishrat Hussain.
According to insiders, the name of Ahmed Mujtaba Memon, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, was being considered by Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, for heading FBR.
“The IMF team may also have proposed the name for chairman FBR during the recent talks in which Memon has also been involved on the part of finance ministry,” said the source adding that IMF needed a man with good management skills at FBR to meet the revenue targets.
“It seems that Memon has also won the support from members of FBR, more senior to him, as they remained in contact with him during the past one year as additional secretary at the ministry,” claimed sources.
On the other hand sources at FBR claimed that there was strong resentment against appointment of a grade 21 junior officer, as head of the board, though he belongs to Customs Group.
With the appointment of Memon as the FBR chief, nine grade 22 officers would stand ignored.
The Inland Revenue Service (IRS) has six officers in Grade 22. Mian Saeed Iqbal Khan of IRS is the most senior official in the FBR.
The Customs Group has three officers in Grade 22 including Fazal Yazdani, Javed Ghani and Sarwat Tahira Habib. Two grade 22 officers of customs group are serving as members in the FBR. Some officers in grade 21 are senior to Ahmed Mujtaba Memon.
Previously, two BS-22 officers at FBR had left the board after appointment of a junior officer, Mr Traiq Pasha as chairman.
“Unfortunately the heads in finance ministry and high-ups at PM House do not trust the existing senior members of FBR. The government presently needs a bold decision maker,” claimed the sources.
Memon belongs to the 15th common of the Customs Group. He has served the FBR at different positions including Customs Collectorate of Adjudication-II. He also served as Collector Customs at Hyderabad.
Others issues linked with the appointment of Memon were his dual nationality, as he holds Canadian nationality, and cases at Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
As per a report FIA had booked Memon when he was Collector Customs, Hyderabad, over his alleged involvement in corruption amounting to around Rs190 million. According to the FIR, the case established against the accused on April 1, 2016, was the result of an inquiry no 50-2015 of the FIA’s Anti Corruption Circle. The FIA alleged that the collector while serving in customs service remained involved in corruption and corrupt practices.
According to the FIR, he accumulated huge immovable/movable properties in his name and in the names of other family members, which were disproportionate to his known source of income.
In addition, he made transactions amounting to Rs116.48 million through 10 different bank accounts opened in his name and the names of other family members. The FIA leveled an allegation that Memon also maintained two foreign currency accounts in his and his spouse’s names and remitted around $737,000 for purchasing properties in Canada.
“You may hardly find a ‘Mr. Clean’ in customs. We should focus on capability and management skills of officers for heading the challenging organization,” said an official at finance ministry.
In case of appointment, Memon will face the immediate challenge of preparing a new budget in line with the IMF’s policies/directions. The new head of FBR will also face the challenge of improving tax collection that has nosedived in past nine months.