FBR launches new complaint redressal mechanism

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Member Inland Revenue Operations Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed has launched a confidential system for taxpayers to file complaints of corruption, rent-seeking, and unethical conduct against any FBR functionary without fearing any reaction.

A convenient and protected mechanism has been formulated in order to alleviate the fears of the business community and citizen taxpayers and help them file complaints against corruption and other malpractices without revealing their identity. All complaints would be received by Member (Inland Revenue-Operations) himself on an especially dedicated cellphone +92-0345-5555507 which would be in his own possession at all times.

In this regard, FBR issued a circular 10 of 2021 on Monday outlining the Standard Operating Procedure for protecting complainants of corruption against reaction or revenge.

The SOP for lodging and handling of complaints against IR field functionaries includes lodging of complaints by the complainant through a text message at the mentioned cell number on WhatsApp, preferably.

In WhatsApp text option, the complainant would identify himself by writing his name, address, CNIC, the case particulars and his cell phone number. Further, the complainant would write the name(s) of the official(s) or officer(s) against whom the complaint is directed along-with his/their designation, place of posting, and any other particulars, if available, stated an FBR spokesperson.

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The complaint must be supported by some evidence such as audio or video recording, text message exchanged with the FBR functionary or any other documents, which could be attached with the text message, or subsequently sent by hard mail, he said. “If no such evidence is readily available, an affidavit on a legal paper, clearly spelling out the allegation and the person against whom the allegations are levelled would suffice,” he added.

Upon receipt of the complaint, a code number would be allotted to each complainant and his back-end identity data would be hidden beyond the access of field officers, informed the spokesperson, adding that this would help in tracking the progress of the complaint and its outcomes.

The FBR spokesperson also made it clear that non-specific, unsupported or generalized complaints won’t be processed.

FBR further stressed that for routine complaints other than corruption-related practices, taxpayers can continue to utilize the forum of Integrity Management Cell, Pakistan Citizen Portal and Helpline for redressal of their grievances besides this newly established mechanism of complaint resolution, said the spokesperson.

The policy of zero tolerance against corruption and rent seeking is actively being pursued by FBR since quite some time. To put an end to such unethical practices, Inland Revenue (IR) Field Formations, Integrity Committees were set up both at the Head-office and at each Field Formation where-under any citizen taxpayer having any grievance against an IR functionary could approach an Integrity Committee and lodge a complaint.

However, the FBR believes that though the framework of Integrity Committees has helped in addressing complaints and deterring corruption, it has still not produced exceptional results. Reason being that most of the complaints are usually filed anonymously and the details of the offender are not divulged due to fear of backlash.

Therefore, this redressal mechanism has been devised where the complaints would be opened, acknowledged, and treated as per law in a highly confidential manner.