New Chairman of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR)
Abdullah Yousuf has expressed his determination to reform the
organization and make it business-friendly. Addressing a news conference
after assuming his new responsibilities, he vowed to remove impediments
in the way of domestic and foreign investment.
Mr. Abdullah Yousuf, took over as Secretary Revenue
and Chairman, Central Board of Revenue last week. He brings with him
vast experience of public service of over 30 years. Prior to assuring
charge of CBR, he held prestigious position of Secretary, Ministry of
Petroleum for many years where he successfully planned and implemented
innovative policies to attract foreign investments for oil and gas
exploration in Pakistan.
Economic analysts say, appointment of Mr. Abdullah
Yousaf has sent right signals to the relevant quarters that the
government is determined to carryout the already delayed reforms and
restructuring of the revenue collection organization. The fact that Mr.
Abdullah is a personal choice of the Finance Minister, makes it amply
clear that the new CBR Chief has come with full authority to deliver.
Mr. Abdullah Yousaf, came to lime-light as Managing
Director, Utility Stores Corporation in the early phase of his public
service. In a short time he established a chain of utility stores
throughout the country providing relief to the consumers, with sobering
effect on consumer market. He also served as Secretary, Board of
Investment in the formative stage of this organization and in that
capacity had productive interaction with multinational as well as local
companies. As Secretary Privatization Commission, he greatly contributed
to framing and implementing of privatization policy of the government.
Known for his honesty and integrity, Mr. Abdullah Yousaf is a qualified
Chartered Accountant. His vast experience and working relationship with
the corporate sector of the country will help him in reforming and
restructuring of CBR and improving revenue collection.
The new Chairman, however, is faced with two major
challenges on assuming charge. These challenges are a loan request to
World Bank of $ 154 million for restructuring of CBR and to justify the
contract of Maxwell Stamp, a British-based consultant firm for
restructuring hired from the last one and-a-half-year. The outgoing
Chairman of CBR, Riaz Malik had sought credit of the World Bank that is
still in process but hired the services of the British consultant firm
against $ 2 million for 18 months. The contract of Maxwell Stamp is
expected to expire by March 15 and the new chairman has to justify the
services of this firm prior to renew another contract with the firm.
In addition to this, the new chairman is also
believed to look into the services of the five consultant hired on very
high packages from the private sector for the restructuring of Audit,
Human Resource Development, Taxpayer Education, MIS Fiscal Research and
two other sectors of the CBR. So far their contribution for reforming
CBR and improving its efficiency has been negligible.
We have seen in the past that the successive
governments unfolded their plans to reform and revamp CBR with the
objective to enhance revenues, facilitate taxpayer, simplify procedures
and eliminate chances of corruption. However, practically there was no
meaningful progress towards realization of any of these goals.
Similarly, numerous initiatives were taken to attract investment but the
situation remained unchanged mainly because of the complicated tax
system that gave unlimited discretionary powers to the taxation
officers. CBR's image in the past was by large that of the policeman and
it was frowned at and feared by the taxpayer and the investor. Credit
goes to the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz for introducing measures aimed
at simplification of rules and regulations, reduction in number of taxes
and rationalization of tariff. However, a major initiatives is yet to be
taken to put image of the CBR in the right perspective.