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ISLAMABAD: The Revenue Division secretary has received a letter from the Senate Secretariat for nomination of Senator Dilawar Khan as member of the policy board of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

According to the letter recently received at the FBR Headquarters before upcoming budget 2021-22, previously Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi was nominated by the Senate chairman as member of the FBR policy board.

Since Senator Afridi was elected as Senate deputy chairman, therefore, the Senate chairman nominated Senator Dilawar Khan as member of the policy board under the FBR Act 2007.

According to sources, the said Senator Khan runs cigarette manufacturing business and may be able to play a role in formulation of policies in favour of tobacco industry in the upcoming budget also.

Senator Dilawar Khan is also member of Senate standing committee on Finance, Commerce, and Health.

Interestingly, he is a member of all those committees, which deal with either tobacco taxation or tobacco crop purchase or anti-tobacco laws. A question has been whether it is not a conflict of interest?

The recent nomination as member policy board of the FBR by the chairman Senate before budget has raised serious questions on political interference in the taxation policies.

Experts believe that nomination of senator as member of the FBR policy board is a clear hint how tobacco industry is influencing policy making of the country, and denting the national exchequer by interfering in the tax policies.

The nomination has come at a time, when the budget preparation exercise is at its peak at the FBR and budget makers are reviewing the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes for the next fiscal year.

The FED on cigarettes remained a major revenue spinner on indirect taxes.

Last year, the said senator gave packets of cigarettes and cigars printed with the Senate monogram as a gift to all members of the Senate of Pakistan.

This was a clear violation of the Government of Pakistan’s laws.

At that time, Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwalla ordered an inquiry that how these illegal packs were printed and distributed in the Parliament.

But interestingly, this inquiry was not done despite serious illegality.

The FBR Policy Board was established in February last year, when Asad Umar was the Finance minister.

The Board is now headed by the Finance minister as its chairman and includes the ministers for Commerce, Textile, Industries and Privatisation as its ex-officio members, along with chairmen/chairpersons of standing committees on Finance and Revenue – the Senate and the National Assembly.

It was decided that a new setup would have members from the FBR and also engage fiscal and economic experts from academia, think tanks, and the private sector to present holistic proposals for mobilising revenue generation with greater autonomy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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