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FBR Crackdown on Corruption: 100 Senior Officials to Face Consequences

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Editorial

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) recently made headlines after suspending two heads of its field formations in Lahore and several other officials over a severe bribery scandal. The officials were accused of issuing a Refund Payment Order to an electronic goods manufacturing company in exchange for a staggering Rs 800 million bribe. This action, based on incriminating evidence, led to the formation of a three-member fact-finding committee to allow the accused officials to defend themselves. However, pending investigation, they were placed in the Administration and Human Resource wing.

This is not an isolated case, as another refund scandal involving dozens of officials charged with corruption in refund cases is on the horizon. Earlier this April, key members of the Inland Revenue (Policy) Service and Customs Service (Operations) were transferred to the Admin Pool, a measure often used to temporarily reassign employees pending investigation. Shockingly, around 100 senior officials facing corruption charges are in the process of being placed in this redundancy pool, where they can still enjoy perks and privileges and potentially return to their previous positions.

This situation raises concerns about the prevalence of corrupt practices within the FBR and its inflated workforce. According to former FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi, the organization has approximately 23,000 employees for a job that could be handled by 8,000 individuals. Consequently, placing 100 senior officials in a redundancy pool may not significantly impact its operational capability.

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The broader issue of right-sizing the government workforce has also come to the fore. Right-sizing is a strategic initiative aimed at optimizing the size and structure of the government workforce to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Despite the government’s plan to eliminate tens of thousands of vacant posts as part of this initiative, reports suggest that fresh recruitments are being made to these positions. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also emphasized the need to abolish institutions, ministries, and departments that have become a burden on the national exchequer, particularly highlighting the 17 ministries abolished at the federal level under the 18th Amendment.

In light of these developments, it is evident that a comprehensive and transparent strategy is required to address corruption and inefficiencies within the FBR and other government entities. The consequences faced by the implicated officials underscore the urgent need for accountability and reform to ensure the effective and ethical functioning of government institutions.

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