The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has bent the selection criteria for appointment of head of a subsidiary of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) by allowing graduates to apply for the top post at the company, which is the backbone of the tax system.
The education and experience criteria have been relaxed aimed at hiring a blue-eyed person of at least two influential people who are close to power corridors, FBR and National Database and Registration Authority, according to sources in the FBR.
In November, the government had re-advertised the post of chief executive officer of the Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt) Limited (PRAL). The FBR fully owns PRAL, which is its information technology backbone.
For the last over one year, PRAL’s affairs are being run on an ad-hoc basis and the acting management while taking advantage of the situation has recently disbursed nearly Rs45 million in bonuses in a clear violation of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s austerity policy. The acting CEO had claimed in October that PM’s austerity policy did not apply to PRAL being a “private limited company”.
In April 2019, the government had advertised the post of PRAL CEO and required qualification for candidates was at least first class master’s degree in computer sciences/management sciences or equivalent in similar discipline from well-reputed national/international recognized universities, with no third division in whole academic career, according to the advertisement for the post.
A few months ago, the government re-advertised the post and lowered the educational qualification to “graduate degree from a well-reputed institute or such other professional qualification in computer science”. It has also relaxed the experience from 15 years of post-qualification to “demonstrated experience of not less than 10 years”.
The sources said that all this was done to hire one blue-eyed person as CEO of the company. The influential people were trying to bring the person of their choice. The said person had less than 15 years of experience and a degree from a local university.
The CEO is responsible for strategic and tactical planning, development, evaluation, and coordination of the information and technology systems. This position is designed to ensure the continuous delivery and operation of integrated systems. The CEO is also responsible for the management of multiple information and communications systems and projects, including voice, data, imaging, and office automation.
When contacted, FBR spokesman Dr Hamid Atiq Sarwar did not directly comment on the matter. “The PRAL is now governed by an independent board and the FBR has only four ex-officio members out of 11,” said Sarwar. He said that the FBR chairman, member operations Inland Revenue, member operations customs and member information technology of the FBR were the ex-officio members of the PRAL board.
Only the PRAL board can comment on the decision to change the experience and educational qualification criteria, said the FBR spokesperson.
The fact of the matter remains that the PRAL works under the government of Pakistan and the selection process cannot be completed without the approval of the Ministry of Finance.
In October, the FBR spokesman had said the government would soon complete the process of hiring the new CEO.