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99.999% of FBR’s staff interested in power: Shabar Zaidi

The withdrawal of the directive to notify taxpayers 24 hours prior to freezing their bank accounts drew the ire of the former chairperson of the Federal Board of Revenue.

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Ex-chairperson of the Federal Board of Revenue Shabar Zaidi expressed his disappointment at the withdrawal of the directive to inform a taxpayer at least a day before freezing his/her bank account. During his brief stint as the chairperson of the FBR, Shabar Zaidi had directed the officials to convey the freezing of bank account(s) to the relevant account holder(s) minimum 24 hours before carrying out the order.

Shabar Zaidi further implied that the power-hungry bureaucratic mentality of the FBR officials and lack of support from key stakeholders was what prevented him from transforming the organizational culture. The mindset of the personnel at the tax collecting body was what rendered him ineffective as the head of that body.

Zaidi had expressed similar opinion during his interview at a morning show. On “Breakfast with Jung” hosted by Sikander Lodhi, he had mentioned that one of the reasons for his abdication from the post of the chairperson of the FBR was the opposition of senior bureaucrats Shahzad Arbab and Dr.Ishrat Hussain to his idea of converting the Board of Revenue into Pakistan Revenue Service.

Shabar Zaidi was appointed the chairperson of Pakistan’s tax collecting authority by the incumbent Prime Minister on May 10th, 2019 and served in that capacity till January 6, 2020. In January 2020, Zaidi went on an indefinite leave citing health issues. In February, 2020 he dismissed the rumors of his resignation, maintaining that he had been unable to perform his duties due to ill health.

Read More: PM Khan congratulates Pakistan for historic tax collection

It is worth noting that despite his bitter experience of working in the public sector, Zaidi remains a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Imran Khan. In his reply to recent tweet criticizing the revenue collecting authority, he enlightened his followers that the present premier fully supported him in his endeavors, but the society did not.

In early 2020 when the head of the JUI-F, Maulana Fazlur Rehman incorrectly referred to a fake facebook post in the name of Shabar Zaidi in his attempt to tarnish the political image of the ruling party, Zaidi hit back at the political stalwart and stated that his respect for the incumbent head of government had edged up “many times” after working alongside him. He termed Khan as a “great leader” and a “warrior” against status quo.

Zaidi has been vocal on the taxation issues in Pakistan since resigning from the position of the chairperson of the FBR. He is vehemently opposed to presumptive taxation in Pakistan. According to the accomplished chartered accountant, presumptive taxation is a grave issue in the tax mechanism of our country. Presumptive taxation had been introduced in the 1990s and still continues to hamper tax collection till date. Due to this, no trader is paying tax on a net income basis in Pakistan.

During Zaidi’s tenure, he outlined many easily solvable problems that prevent the broadening of the tax base in Pakistan and greater tax collection. For example, 40% of tobacco production in Pakistan is undocumented along with 30% of batteries. Furthermore, 300,000 industrial and commercial connections of Sui gas have been traced and identified, out of which only 40,000 were registered. Lastly, out of 45 million bank accounts in Pakistan, only 8 million were registered against taxpayers.

Read More: Tax relief worth Rs465 billion given since August: Hammad Azhar

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