EDITORIAL: Last month, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) suspended two heads of its field formations in Lahore along with some other officials, including Chief Commissioner of Large Tax Payers Office, allegedly for issuing Refund Payment Order to an electronic goods manufacturing company in return for a whopping Rs 800 million bribe.

Apparently, the action was taken on the basis of incriminating evidence; nonetheless, a three-member fact-finding committee was formed to give them a chance to clear their position, which is only fair. But pending investigation they were placed in the Administration and Human Resource wing.

In yet another refund scandal, a report appearing in this newspaper says, a list of dozens of more officials charged with corruption in refund cases has been prepared to be notified soon. Earlier this April, almost all key members of the Inland Revenue (Policy) Service and Customs Service (Operations) were transferred to the Admin Pool.

In all, without proving innocence as many as 100 senior officials facing corruption charges are in the process of being dumped into that pool, where they can continue to enjoy all the perks and privileges, and in due course could return to their previous positions resuming business as usual.

It is worth recalling in this context that a few years ago, a large number of corrupt Sindh government officers were sacked. But after entering plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau they were reinstated, some of them even got promoted to higher grades.

The Sindh High Court, however, righted that wrong after hearing a petition in one such case, directing the provincial government to immediately dismiss all reinstated officers since plea bargain or voluntary return of embezzled money in itself is a confession of guilt by an accused person.

In the FBR’s case, the problem is not only rampant corrupt practices but also a hugely inflated workforce. According to its former chairman, Shabbar Zaidi, for a job that 8,000 employees can do, FBR has a staff of about 23,000. Hence, putting 100 senior officials in a redundancy pool makes no difference to its operational capability.

In a somewhat similar situation a while ago the federal government announced elimination of tens of thousands of posts that have been vacant for more than one year in all ministries, divisions and executive departments, as part of a ‘right-sizing’ plan agreed with the World Bank.

Reports now suggest fresh recruitments to those posts are being made. Also, in his Vote of Thanks speech last month in the National Assembly following passage of the Finance Bill, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif vowed to abolish all institutions, ministries, and departments that, he said, have become a burden on the national exchequer.

The obvious place to start is to part with 17 ministries which under the 18th Amendment were abolished at the federal level and devolved to the provinces.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Jul 06, 2024 12:01pm
These corrupt officials n their colleagues have made billions prior to this exposed crime, but the real shame for country n law-for-sale is that no criminal case has been registered so far. Shameless.
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KU Jul 06, 2024 12:04pm
If media was to focus on other public sector corrupt practices, an equally horrendous bribe/kick-backs culture in billions would numb the senses, especially land development authorities, etc.
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