Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has put on hold the Common Pool Fund (CPF) Rules issued by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) which in effect would transfer public money collected from citizens into pockets of Inland Revenue Service (IRS) officers.
It is pertinent to mention here that ProPakistani had reported earlier that FBR has issued Common Pool Fund (CPF) Rules to be applicable from March 1, 2023, where it announced lavish accommodations for Inland Revenue officers.
In an interesting and novel move, FBR had created a legal cover in the form of rules to enrich and finance the personal expenses of inland revenue service officers who are already taking double salaries, are enjoying many perks and privileges, and on top of that are receiving cash rewards equal to one basic salary every month.
Sources told ProPakistani that, given the situation in which certain self-seeking and conflict of interest ridden provisions drafted by FBR officers were included in the annual Finance Bills and were passed by the parliamentarians without much check and scrutiny, it had become awfully easy for the FBR bureaucracy to insert in taxation laws the self-enriching provisions which give the FBR officers a legal cover to pull money out of public hands and to push it into their own pockets.
In a clarification issued on Saturday, the Finance Ministry said that through Finance Act 2019, Section 76 was inserted in Sales Tax Act 1990 which empowers the FBR with the approval of the minister in charge to impose a levy, fee, and service charges on Tier-1 retailers at the rate of Rs. 1 per invoice.
It further said that subsequently, FBR with the approval of the then federal finance minister levied a POS service fee of Rs. 1 per invoice on Tier-1 retailers. The purpose of the aforesaid levy was explicit and duly included the welfare of IRS employees.
Sources said that Customs and IRS bureaucracy in FBR were striving to leave each other behind in their competition to financially enrich themselves under the garb of certain provisions of tax laws drafted by the custom and IRS officers themselves to plunder public money with impunity.
This was notified vide S.R.O.1279(1)/2021 dated 30th September 2021. Under the provisions of section 76 (2) of the Sales Tax Act 1990, FBR is authorized to prescribe the mode and manner to expend such service fees/charges. Thereafter, FBR issued Common Pool Fund Rules for the welfare of its employees on 16-01-2023 with the approval of the Board-in-Council.
It said that the heads of expenditure provided in the Rules include financial assistance to families of shuhada, subsidy on marriage expenditure, health insurance, scholarships for the education of children, headquarter support allowance, fuel subsidy to the junior officers, IRS officers mess, house rent subsidy, support for widows, and burial expenses.
The statement added that “keeping in view the current economic situation in Pakistan”, the finance minister has taken notice of the matter and directed the FBR to put the implementation of these Rules on hold.
Sources said that following in the footsteps of the customs bureaucracy of FBR who had already inserted many self-enriching provisions in the customs laws and rules, IRS officers too inserted subsection 2 in section 76 of the sales tax act 1990, subsection 2 in section 49 of the federal excuses act 2005 and subsection 2 in section 222A of the income tax ordinance, 2001 in 2021 whereby they empowered the FBR to authorize the expenditure of sorts of public money they had through their earlier amendments empowered the FBR to collect including the money collected from the public in the name of service fee on POS invoices.
Sources said that FBR could not authorize the expenditure of public money collected from the people of Pakistan for any conceivable purpose.
The FBR could authorize the expenditure of public money only for public purposes and not for embellishing the officers’ residences, filling their vehicle’s fuel tanks and showering on them extra money over and above their double salaries and massive cash rewards every month when posted in FBR.
Sources doubted if the parliamentarians sifted and scrutinized threadbare the self-enriching provisions of finance bills drafted and inserted in these bills by the FBR bureaucracy to help them plunder public money under the legal cover of their own drafted amendment provisions of taxation laws.
Sources said that in civilized nations, governments used their revenue-collecting bodies for transferring wealth from the rich to the poor. On the contrary, FBR had formulated the IRS Common Pool Fund Rules 2023 which seeks to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich.
The sources said that the Finance Minister should go a step further to put under the microscope, see the details of and eliminate from the law and rule books of FBR all those self-enriching provision that the FBR officers use to push massive amounts of public money into their own pockets
I thourougly enjoy ProPakistani’s coverage of; and obsession with FBR. It’s like a daily cry of hurt being narrated to a therapist about being in a loveless one way relationship. Because the truth is most of what you’ve said is factually incorrrect, which kind of adds to the comic effect of this “serious” piece of writing. Nonetheless fascinating story. Looking forward to our next session.