Senior officers of the Inland Revenue have strongly opposed the proposed formation of Pakistan Revenue Authority, saying that it would negatively impact the revenue collection.
The concerns were raised at a meeting of Inland Revenue Service Officers Association held on Thursday. It was attended by more than 120 officers.
The participants unanimously agreed that they were in support of meaningful and transparent reforms aimed at creating a viable, automated and effective revenue organization, the IRSOA said in a statement.
However, they expressed concerns over the “discreetly and secretly approved haphazard reform plan”, which was apparently prepared by individuals outside the IR.
It is neither detailed nor legal in the strict sense of the constitutional and statutory impediments in the federal setup of the country, the statement said.
It said the IR is the largest service rank and is equipped with on-job training with necessary professional skills for effective tax collection, given the country’s socio-economic and ground realities.
“The reforms in revenue or in any state body, if experimented without involving the stakeholders as well as being oblivious to ground realities, are bound to fail,” it said.
In this regard, concerns were raised that the under-discussion reforms could not bring any betterment and would rather create confusion and uncertainty.
“It would frustrate the pace of tax collection which is much needed for defence and development of the country,” the IRSOA said. The plan would also affect the documentation and drive against benami transactions/properties and illegal assets abroad, and weaken the case of Pakistan in FATF proceedings, it added.
The meeting agreed that these reforms were aimed at creating a controversial authority wherein non-civil servants representing business communities and professional organizations could be hired. This might encourage tax avoidance and evasion instead of revenue collection, it observed.
According to the IRSOA, the reforms were perceived as a kind of “coup” against the willing, professional and experienced professionals of the IR who, despite business-friendly tax policies, had raised tax revenues to five times in the last ten years and that too with limited resources and no financial autonomy.
The participants observed that the proposed reforms conveyed the impression of some “conspiracy hatched by non-professionals in a conniving and shabby manner”, which would lead to further deformation and deterioration of the service as well as the national economy.
They showed unflinching support and solidarity with chief commissioners for conveying the IR community’s concerns to the Federal Board of Revenue chairman during the chief commissioners’ conference recently held in Islamabad.
The participants also expressed solidarity with lower pay scale employees of the IR and assured that their concerns with regard to service conditions in the proposed reforms programme would be conveyed to the high-ups.
The meeting concluded with a resolution reiterating that the IR officers and employees were not against reforms but the process should be inclusive and give due weightage to the concerns of all stakeholders.