The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has added a new button on its website that will allow the public to instantly file a complaint against tax officials involved in corruption and maladministration.
This is the first time that such a facility has been provided to the citizens of Pakistan to file complaints without any physical interactions with FBR officials. Additionally, the FBR has also launched a Complaint Portal for the general public in this regard.
The FBR website icon reads: ‘For Immediate Redressal of Complaints, Press Button’.
The FBR Portal provides five ways for citizens to file complaints against tax officials:
calling the FBR Helpline
sending an email to the FBR’s official email address
a Complaint Portal facility
a postal service to Chairman FBR or notified committees in the field formations
personally meeting the Chairman Integrity Management Cell at the FBR Headquarters and the Regional Integrity Committees (RICs)
The FBR said that it has also established a Probe Committee at the board level and RICs at the national level to verify the authenticity of the complaints that are filed against tax officials on the charges of corruption, bribery, and speed money.
On the recommendations of In-charge of the Integrity Management Cell (IMC), the Chairman of the FBR may refer a case against an officer/official to another competent forum for it to take action under the relevant laws if there is substantial evidence of massive corruption against the official.
The In-charge IMC may, either himself or on the recommendation of an RIC and with the approval of the Chairman FBR, initiate an inquiry against an official if sufficient and lawful evidence for corruption against them is available.
Subsequent to the establishment of an IMC at the FBR and the constitution of RICs in the field formations under the FBR, the following Terms of Reference (TORs) are hereby framed for the transparent, fair, and judicious processing of complaints by the IMC and RICs.
Composition of the IMC: The IMC, headed by a BS — 21/22 officer of the IRS/Customs will be assisted by two Chiefs (one each from Customs & IRS), two Secretaries (one each from Customs & IRS) and as much supporting staff as is necessary. All the Chairpersons of RICs will report directly to In-Charge IMC in all matters that are within its domain.
Mode of Lodging Complaints: A complaint against an FBR employee may be submitted in person either directly to the IMC at the FBR (HQs) or to any of the designated RICs either via email or in writing along with the credentials of the complainant, including their name, CNIC, cell phone number, postal address, and a written affidavit that certifies the authenticity and/or accuracy of the contents of the complaint and its supporting facts.
A Probe Committee comprising the Chief (IMC), the Chief (Mgt) concerned, the second secretary/secretary, and any other representative from the field formation concerned (if required) will initially examine the contents of each complaint, received at the FBR or by the IMC. After verifying a complaint, the Probe Committee will submit its recommendation to the In-charge IMC.
If a complaint requires more probing and inquiry, it will be forwarded to the concerned RIC for a report on it.
In case the complaint is disingenuous or lacks clarity, the complainant will be informed of it in writing.
The Probe Committee will hold its meetings on a weekly basis or when required and will maintain a comprehensive record of the proceedings.
At the field level, in case of complaints against BS 01 to 16 FBR employees, the RIC, after verifying a complaint, will proceed as per the corresponding law and either order a further probe of or inquiry into the complaint or file the complaint under intimation to the complainant in writing.
In case of complaints against BS 17 and above FBR employees, the RIC, after its initial scrutiny, will forward the complaint to the IMC along with its recommendations that will be discussed by the Probe Committee.
Further appropriate action in all such complaints will be taken with the approval of the in-charge, IMC, and in the light of recommendations of the “Probe Committee”.
The RICs will hold its meetings on a weekly basis or as and when required and will maintain a comprehensive record of its proceedings.
The general principles for inquiries into and the probing of complaints are that, in order to save time and ensure the prompt disposal of complaints, the scope of the probe given by the IMC and the RICs will be strictly restricted/limited to the allegations leveled/facts provided and substantiated in the complaint.
Moreover, no pseudonymous/anonymous complaint will be entertained by the IMC or by the RIC in the light of instructions issued by the Government of Pakistan.
The duration for the disposal of a complaint by the IMC and RICs will be 30 days and may be extended by another 30 days by the In-charge IMC.
All the accused will be granted the proper opportunity of a hearing to defend themselves against the charges against them in the complaint in compliance with the basic principles of natural justice.
If a complainant produces or is willing to produce documentary evidence to support their allegations against an official or to withdraw their complaint during the verification/initial probe, it will be allowed after recording it in writing, following which the complaint may be dismissed by the IMC or the RICs.
The scope of inquiries undertaken by the IMC or the RICs will be strictly limited to the ambit of the E & D Rules, 1973, that facilitate disciplinary action against civil servants.
The FBR added that all the proceedings of the IMC and the RICs will be confidential, and nothing will be divulged to any irrelevant person.