According to the latest press release of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the tax collection body successfully collected the revised revenue target of 3989 billion set for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-20. The FBR, its regional offices and all the staff deserve appreciation for surpassing the figure of four trillion in FY 2019-20 for the first time in history. The collected net revenue, which is 82 billion more than the revised revenue target of 3907 billion due to the pandemic’s adverse effects on overall economic activity is worth appreciating.
Besides, the record collection also shows that the recent reforms to improve the country’s tax collection system and widen the tax base bore fruit. The hard work of FBR officials in securing the revenue goals is evident from the fact that the body has lost more than thirty employees due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The achieved numbers are reflective of the great devotion and zeal of officials to make Pakistan stand on its feet. While all these achievements are praiseworthy and FBR deserves all the praise, it is nevertheless important to acknowledge that it did struggle in meeting the initial tax collections. That means that there are still some loopholes left in the working system and operations that must be corrected.
Nevertheless, mere words of appreciation will not be enough to praise and encourage the officials who worked day and night to collect these taxes. Reports from within the officer and inspector cadres though, are that employees are supremely unhappy to have not been given their yearly bonus for targets achieved. Individual officers have collected upwards of 100 million in several cases. They must be appreciated with bonus salaries. FBR’s employees rely on these incentives for their yearly expenses. And the decision to not grant these payments will open up avenues for further corruption and allow the corrupt officers to use this as an excuse to steal more. At the very least, people that handle the country’s money need to be cared for financially, or stealing is a forgone conclusion.