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ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Javed Ghani Monday told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the board is taking strict action against corrupt tax officials as there is zero tolerance for corruption.

In a meeting of the top parliamentary watchdog chaired by its chairman Rana Tanveer to review audit paras of FBR for 2019-20, Ghani said that the Integrity Management Cell and Regional Integrity Committees (RICs) are investigating complaints of corruption against tax officials.

"Strict action will be taken against tax officials involved in corrupt practices," he added.

He said that whenever he gets a compliant against any official - whether junior or senior - it is thoroughly investigated and immediate action is taken to end the menace of corruption.

"Irrespective of his/her position or designation, we are trying to make sure no tax official involved in the corruption is spared," he maintained.

The FBR boss had to give lengthy explanation about eradication of corruption in his institution after the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief whip in National Assembly Amir Dogar - who is also a member of PAC - alleged that a commissioner openly demanded bribe from him when asked him for changing his tax jurisdiction from Multan to Islamabad.

He shared the details of the commissioner with FBR chairman in rioting who assured him of strict action against the official for demanding bribe from a lawmaker.

The PAC chairman also directed the FBR chairman to bring the corrupt official to book, saying what to talk of an ordinary man if a lawamekr is treated like this by a responsible official.

Noor Alam Khan, a member of the PAC, proposed to handpick honest officials with clean past track records to restore the trust of the people on FBR, as it is fast losing its credibility due to presence of some black sheep within the institution.

The officials of the Auditor General of Pakistan told the committee that FBR has paid inadmissible income tax refunds of over Rs2 billion in one case. On this issue, the PAC directed the AGP and the FBR to hold the departmental accounts committee (DAC) meeting to settle the issue.

When the committee asked for not holding DACs, the FBR officials said that DAC meeting could not be held due to Covid-19 pandemic and smart lookdowns in the country.

The committee reviewed the progress report regarding inquiry of refund of Rs6 billion given to M/s Usman Trade Linkers, Multan. The AGP officials told the committee that the refund was issued in connivance with tax officials.

The PAC chairman inquired from tax authorities to explain as to why the amount has not been recovered despite passage of so many years, adding it is an open and shut case and FBR must recover the amount without any further delay.

The FBR chairman apprised the committee that the department is conducting proper investigation of the case. However, the High Court has stayed the proceedings due to which the board cannot pass order against the company till vacation of the stay order.

Chairman PAC directed the FBR to strongly pursue the case in the court for recovery of the amount from the company, adding the FBR should appoint some competent corporate lawyers or legal counselor in the case.

When PAC member Shahida Akhtar took up the issue of vacant positions in FBR, Noor Alam Khan said that the positions are vacant in almost all departments of the government.

On this, PAC Chairman directed the concerned authorities to submit the timeframe for filling the vacant positions in different government departments.

The AGP officials said that a team was sent to a bank for conducting audit of its affairs, but the bank has written a letter refusing to conduct its audit. The letter has been submitted to the PAC Secretariat seeking necessary directions.

The PAC expressed displeasure over the attitude of the concerned bank officials, who refused to audit team.

Meanwhile, the committee also directed president National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to appear before it in the next meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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