Pakistan News

IT member Asim made new FBR chairman

ISLAMABAD: The government has appointed a senior officer of Inland Revenue Service Asim Ahmad as new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) with a clear direction to broaden the narrow tax base and facilitation of taxpayers through automation.

The notification was issued on Friday after the cabinet approved his appointment as the chairman. Through another notification, the federal government also gave additional charge of the revenue division secretary to him.

Mr Ahmad is the fifth FBR chairman appointed during the two-and-a-half-year tenure of the PTI-led government. The post fell vacant on April 9 when Javed Ghani, a grade-22 officer of the customs group, reached superannuation.

Over the past several days, many names were in circulation to be posted as FBR chairman. However, the government appointed Mr Ahmad who was currently serving as a member of the information technology (IT) in the FBR.

Talking to Dawn, the newly appointed chairman said he would implement Prime Minister Imran Khan’s agenda to fully automate the process of taxation. “As an IT member, a detailed presentation was given to prime minister on automation roadmap,” Mr Ahmad said while vowing to implement the roadmap in letter and spirit.

The automation has two-pronged objectives – to create easiness for taxpayers and minimise interaction between taxpayers and tax officials. He said the FBR would very soon launch e-hearing concept that would have an inbuilt recording of proceedings.

This facility would be in addition to the already automated appeals system to facilitate taxpayers, the chairman said, adding the full automation would also lead to broadening of the tax base in the country.

The FBR collected net revenue of Rs3.39 trillion during the July-March period which exceeded the target of Rs3.29tr by more than Rs100bn. This represents a growth of about 10 per cent over the collection of Rs3.08tr during the same period last year.

The FBR will have to collect Rs1.301 trillion in three more months till June 30 for reaching the revised target of Rs4.691trn for the current fiscal year.

In reply to a question, Mr Ahmad said the current team was working very hard and the revenue collection target would be achieved. “We will make every effort to achieve our targets for the current fiscal year,” he said.

For the tax year 2021-22, the FBR has already held out an assurance to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to project revenue target at Rs5.963tr as against the revised target of Rs4.691tr for the current fiscal year, an increase of Rs1.272trn or increase of 27pc.

This additional revenue will include revenue measures, revenue through administrative measures and automatic contribution in revenue coming from growth in economy and inflation.

The government has already notified through a presidential ordinance to withdraw a whooping corporation tax exemptions along with others from the next fiscal year. About Rs500bn will be additional tax generation through “general sales tax (GST) and a personal income tax reform with the FY2022 budget, yielding an estimated 1.1pc of GDP”.

Mr Ahmad said he would strive hard to change perception about the FBR. “We will restore the trusts of taxpayers in tax machinery,” he said, adding the automation roadmap would bring about a sea of change in the tax machinery.

Meanwhile, the FBR board-in-council meeting acknowledged and appreciated the services of retiring FBR chairman Javed Ghani. Special Assistant to PM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood and all FBR members attended the meeting and paid tribute to his services. A memento was also presented to him on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021

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