FBR’s Action Against Corrupt Officials Limited to Lower Grades

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has continued action against the corrupt Customs and Inland Revenue officers and penalized them to create deterrence among the tax machinery.

In this connection, the FBR issued several orders against the corrupt tax officers on Monday. However, the analysis of these notifications reveals that action has been taken mostly against lower grade officers (BS-16).

The business community has the option to utilize FBR’s facility of the protected mechanism of filing complaints against corruption of tax officials where the identity of the complainants is masked.

The FBR had issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) through Circular No 10 of 2021. The SOPs were exclusively designed for the taxpayers who can lodge complaints of corruption, rent-seeking, and unethical conduct against any FBR functionary without any fear of revenge.

According to the FBR, it has consistently been pursuing the policy of zero tolerance against corruption and rent-seeking. To curb such unethical practices across Inland Revenue (IR) Field Formations, Integrity Committees were established both at the Head office and each Field Formation where-under, any citizen taxpayer having any grievance against an IR functionary could approach an Integrity Committee and lodge a complaint.

The FBR is of the view that though the framework of Integrity Committees has proven to be a decent mode of redressing complaints and raising deterrence, it has not produced results at the desired level. The plausible reason due to which the Integrity Committees may have performed sub-optimally is that most complaints that are lodged are anonymous, or are not supported by any evidence or even identification of the delinquent functionaries.

Without proper articulation of the issue, identification of the person (against whom the complaint is lodged), and some supporting evidence, the complaint becomes a generalized allegation, and therefore, not of much help to FBR in its crackdown on corruption. The matter has been analyzed at FBR and discussed with the business community and opinion leaders.

It has transpired that the evidence of rent-seeking or corruption or even the particulars of the functionaries involved are not being divulged for the simple reason that the complainants are fearful of subsequent reaction or witch-hunt. The apprehension is misplaced, needs adequate mitigation, and the complainants need to be protected from any retaliatory misadventures, the FBR said.

To allay the fears of the business community and citizen taxpayers, a convenient, and protected mechanism of filing complaints against corruption is being devised whereby, all complaints would be received by Member (Inland Revenue-Operations) himself on a dedicated cellphone. The cell phone would be in his possession, exclusively.

The complaints would be opened, acknowledged, and treated as per law in a highly confidential manner. The identity of the complainants would be immediately masked to safeguard them against any undue consequences.

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