By Manzoor Shaikh -

Dr. Hafeez Shaikh’s induction in the government was to change many things for sure. But, at least the removal of Dr. Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan from the top position of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was doomed. Reason? He was disinterested only, says an FBR officer. “Also, he was not connected with the field.”

At a time where the federal government is striving to cobble up the pieces of the economy, ilk of Dr. Khan does not match with the scheme of things.

Islamabad badly needs money which comes from the taxation effort that requires a person who must be proactive—a quality which the new finance minister Mr. Shaikh too must be looking for in the new FBR chief.

FBR’s collection started crumbling after the federal government introduced cuts on imports besides raising duties on some imported items in order to reduce current account deficit.

Moreover, taxes on POL have also been reduced since the time of Ishaq Dr and it also affected the collection of the bureau.

An added factor which also left its influence was Justice Saqib Nisar’s decisions as regards cellular companies. ‘These factors were doomed to bring about an Rs.300-400 billion shortfall in the taxes,’ bureau’s officers say.

Ironical enough is the fact that the federal government had nothing concrete to address the issues of money while it was moving on to the decisions which were doomed to affect revenue collection in the country where tax culture is already nonexistent.

Two other factors such as political instability and accountability process have also left an inverse effect on the taxes.

A country where taxation base is already limited, political instability does affect. Normal business and trade activity along with stock exchange become panicky.

This time around, the so-called accountability process has also eclipsed tax collection effort as development-related departments of the federal and provincial governments have not performed well.

In Sindh, financial releases have not taken place for two reasons. One that the federal government, as CM Sindh Syed Murad Ali claims has not released Rs.120 billion to the province and two, the engineering departments officers maintaining a hold on everything for the fear of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Now that the FBR is waiting for the new man to steer the ship, names of Fazal Yazdani and Javed Ghani—both from Custom Service— are being tipped for the post. The former has Lahore connection while the latter is with KP connection. Whoever among them would sit on the chair may be Mr. Shaikh’s choice but at least Dr. Khan said to be floated by Azam Khan could not connect with his predecessors.