ISLAMABAD: The FBR’s officers have proposed to the PTI government for awarding a revenue allowance at rate of 150 percent of the basic pay to their employees on pattern of Punjab and KP governments, The News reported.
On proposed restructuring plan being devised by Dr Ishrat Hussain led Institutional Reform Committee as well as the multilateral donors the IMF and World Bank, the FBR officers belonging to Inland Revenue Service (IRS) prepared a detailed report and submitted before the FBR high-ups covering all important aspects.
Presently the revenue collection charge is 0.65% of the total revenue collection, which is far below international level, argues the FBR officers and added that this argument is further strengthened considering Para 12 of WB project report which states that “Despite its large size, the FBR has severe resource constraints that have prevented from upgrading its technical capacity to global standards to generate more revenues.
The FBR has around 21,000 staff and a nationwide presence. However, it is under-resourced, with an annual budget equivalent to around 0.65 percent of its receipts – much below the levels of high-performing revenue administrations.”
The IRS Officers recommended that performance allowance already approved 3 salaries which should be restored immediately and de-freezing of performance allowance for all employees of FBR is proposed as a first step.
It further recommended that keeping in view the financial package as a disincentive to attract best of the best to compete for the organization and to ensure better work environment, it is proposed that a revenue allowance @ 150% of the basic pay may be awarded to FBR’s employees on the pattern of allowance awarded by the Punjab & KP governments.
On recruitment, the IRS officers stated that FBR recruitment of staff remains in the domain of Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) through competitive exams so that competent officers are brought it the ambit of Civil Services. However, Income tax ordinance empowers FBR chairman to hire experts as per domain need vide section 172 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.
Human Resource Development (HRD) of FBR: They recommended selection of officers based on as per FPSC criteria, recruitment of tax inspectors and field staff with relevant education qualification, duration of Specialised Training Programme at respective institutions to include on hand job training component as per approved plan by Establishment Division and accreditation of Mid-Career Management Course by QAU, IBA or LUMS for award of relevant degrees and infuse professional interest.
They recommended that the Senior Management Course for all occupational groups to be conducted at National Defence University (NDU) along with National Management College, where by the last one month of training is to be held in for revenue services in NDU to accommodate technical aspects of training required for financial services.
The objective evaluation regime for Civil Service Officers is adopted on same lines as that is followed at NDU to ensure identification and clearance of competent material for intellectual employment. (This should also take into account feedback of PERs (performance evaluation reports) combined with an evaluation criterion designed at HRM/Admin WING) – Establishment Division
There is need of establishment of Performance Evaluation Index (PEI) of FBR Officers (BS-16 and above) based on tangible criteria by Admin/HRM Wing.
The performance in the respective courses be made mandatory criterion for promotion to next grade and criterion for foreign training /Courses/Seminar is made transparent and available for all, its selection to be on rotation basis as per allocated seats to ensure equal opportunities (except as per job posting related meetings/etc.
The tenure based rotation regime; alternate employment at FBR Headquarters and field formations be made mandatory for promotion in next grade and promotion of officers to BS-20 and above be subject to security clearance as per approved criterion by Establishment Division.
It is proposed that since TORs does not seek detailed input nor should recommendation in respect of infrastructure, required logistics and workforce requirement vs workload, and this area also be delegated to a separate committee for initiating comprehensive work that would lead to an enabling environment that can yield productive results.
Recruitment: The last workforce vs workload analysis was conducted in 2010. Given the exponential rise in economic activity existing workforce is hampered in terms of logistics and number. Given the expansion of workload in terms of its scope due to assigning implementation of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act and Anti-Money Laundering in addition to maximising revenue collection of Income Tax, Sales Tax and FED, the scope of work has multiplied manifold. It is important to increase the workforce and extend outreach to Tehsil level. Needless to say, that such venture can only be successful if required trained and workforce is placed in key economic hubs at key stations. The proposed mechanism of hiring/recruitment of staff as well as officers is as follows:
For BS 17, constitutionally mandated institutional groups should be through CSS and as per selection criterion approved by the Establishment Division as applicable to other services.
For BS 16 Proposed Improvements: The Islamabad Committee proposes further induction of support cadres on contractual basis to further assist the unit officers in preparing legal report required for prosecution and representation at legal fora and analytical report for officers conducting audit.
Following cadres and posts are proposed to be included as support staff for unit officer to prepare tax assessment and also to deal with legal issues that arises at multiple levels. It can be taken up initially at LTUs in the first phase and then extended to corporate RTOs.
Retention: Since FBR is proposed to be an attached department of the government, as is being governed presently, therefore, the existing arrangement of retention shall continue as per Civil Servants Act, 1973 & Allied Rules.
Security of tenure is an important aspect of HR Management and Retention. Arbitrary powers to hire and fire if granted can also act as a catalyst to get illegal work done through influence of pressure allowed to senior authority.
While performing state function, it is imperative that a security cover is provided to the employees in term of the job security against a scenario to avoid overt pressure of seniors while conducting audit. The officer should be made responsible to account for correct assessments. It should be ensured that if a senior authority intends to influence the decision making of officer in charge of a specific jurisdiction than it would not cause negative impact in terms of job security.
Staff can be retained if they are provided an enabling work environment with a career growth. The existing pay package can be revised at later stage and as a first the de-freezing of performance allowance can be initiated to retain qualified officers and officials.
Capacity building: Robust capacity building programme is required to provide exposure to staff for capacity building purposes. Long term training can lead to workforce gap within organisation hence short term training programmes at local and international level need to be undertaken.
Newly inducted Officials/Officers (BS 7 to 16) may be imparted regular on-job training in accounting, audit & IT which may span over 4-6 weeks.
Foreign training courses may be planned with the tax authorities of developed countries so that the IRS officers may develop understanding of modern tax authorities with a view to contribute in developing an agile, professional and modern tax system in Pakistan.
IT based short courses in Data analytics need to be introduced to equip the officers and officials to ensure correct detection of tax frauds.
The Cabinet has already approved the recommendations of task force on restructuring of government training institutes. Vide Table 6 of the recommendations of the task force, Institute of Fiscal Policy and Financial Management (IFPFM) is proposed to be established by merging Directorates General of Trainings IRS, Customs and Audit and Accounts Academy, this would deprive the organisation of the direct access required for imparting trainings and hence requires revision. Already existing requirement of training being imparted as per need base.
Affiliation of reputed national/international university may be sought to improve the standard of the new institute. Training curriculum may be devised with the help of professionals of respective fields. The World Bank in its report has also suggested improving skills of the existing employees of FBR for which suitable refresher courses may be devised.
The existing system of trainings for promotion may continue so that a working relationship may be developed among all government entities for intellectual enrichment of IRS officers.