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Foreign consultants hired at $30,000 per month

LAHORE: Senior employees of Federal Board of Revenue have lashed out at the FBR for its decision to hire 89 consultants of International Monetary Fund each at $30,000 per month (Rs2.41 million,) citing the example of already working consultants who have failed to deliver.

The IMF has said foreign consultants would cost the FBR Rs810.14 million ($10.08 million). Consultancy cost might go up as two foreign consultants already working at the FBR since January 2007 have been given extension after they were paid Rs40 million by March 2009. The consultancy fee is expected to increase by Rs20 million.

The inability of these consultants to give positive results was first discussed in whispers by the senior FBR staff but later a female executive mustered the courage to raise voice and sent a letter dated April 23 to the chief of FBR’s Tax Policy and Reforms Wing as well as its chairman. The letter discussed contract agreement of Hugo Hanisch, Programme Manager and Obed Santisteban, Tax Intelligence Consultant, who were given extension up to December 2009.

She opposed the extension of contract of the two consultants citing examples and reasons of their ‘incompetence’. However, the complainant lady has now been quietly transferred to Lahore.

The News has found that the World Bank works in coordination with the IMF and its Review Report 2009 on tax reforms in Pakistan is strangely not a follow-up of 2008 report. It implies it has not evaluated performance of IMF consultants hired by the government as well as results of reform process.

It has not questioned why the taxation system has failed to generate sufficient revenues when international trade of the country is on the decline. Conversely speaking, it has not admitted that the local taxation system gains windfall from imports.

The review report has asked the FBR to carry out a few functions, which earlier it asked to avoid. It had all along been emphasising taxpayer facilitation and voluntary compliance in the form of Universal Assessment Scheme. Now it has asked for moving towards integration, changing enforcement culture, establishing a revenue generation task force, enhancing information technology and tax administration reform process.

It has not questioned the hiring of IMF consultants at a high cost which is not even offered to top-notch executives in the US. It would be interesting to note that for all the areas of reforms and commitments that the government meets, it has agreed to hire consultants.

Source: The News

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