ISLAMABAD: The “Sharing of Declaration of Assets of Civil Servants Rules, 2023” allows commercial banks to seek the asset details of civil servants from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) before the opening of their bank accounts.
Explaining the new rules, leading tax expert Dr Ikramul Haq told Business Recorder that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been demanding from Pakistan for a public declaration of the assets of civil servants.
It has also been insisting to acquire details of the overseas assets of the bureaucracy. In addition to this, the fund has also stressed for establishing an authority that could make the assets of civil servant public. Similarly, the international lender asked to make movable and immovable assets of bureaucrats overseas to ensure transparency and accountability, through an Electronic Assets Declaration System.
Rules notified: FBR, banks can share info about civil servants’ assets
For meeting the condition of the IMF, the FBR has notified the Sharing of Declaration of Assets of Civil Servants Rules, 2022 vide SRO 80(l) 12023 dated February 1, 2023. These rules allow commercial banks to seek the asset details of civil servants before opening their bank accounts.
“It is worth noting that the government has not included the judiciary and armed forces from the purview of the asset declarations. The most powerful and privileged classes are still protected,” Dr Haq said.
Under the rules, FBR is going to share a simplified or abridged version of the declaration—based on the fields agreed with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) declared by a civil servant in his electronic declaration filed with the FBR.
Dr Haq further explained that the bank will obtain express written consent from the civil servant of whom the bank intends to access information from the FBR. The bank is required to obtain a certificate from the civil servant as per prescribed format annexed to the rules, duly signed by the person declaring that he is a civil servant of BS-17 and above, with his complete name, designation, employee number and all other particulars that are prescribed in the format.
According to the rules, the head of compliance of the bank is to use a single authorised email address for the request or receipt of a simplified declaration. Each bank must furnish the particulars of four persons for making correspondence with the FBR for seeking data.
In order to keep the data confidential, the authorised officials of the bank will submit a declaration to the FBR that he/ she will maintain the secrecy of the information that will be provided, and it will not be divulged to any person.
In December 2021, the government of Pakistan agreed with the IMF to publicly disclose asset declarations filed by politically-exposed persons, civil servants, and their spouses, Dr Haq added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023
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