Fisticuffs Ignite Probe: ‘Speed-Money’ Dispute Rocks Fbr

Fist Fight Breaks Out at FBR Over ‘Speed-Money’ Mismanagement

A recent incident at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) headquarters in Islamabad has shed light on the rampant internal corruption within the tax machinery. On May 27, 2024, a fist fight erupted between two FBR officers allegedly over a dispute related to the misappropriation of “speed-money.”

‘Speed-Money’ and Jurisdiction Disputes

“Speed-money” refers to the illegal cash payments received by FBR officials in exchange for expediting tax refunds or other favorable treatment. The incident that sparked the fight involved a dispute over the distribution of a “cut” from a 10% fee levied on a tax refund of Rs 550 million granted to an air conditioning manufacturing company.

The sanctioned officer, who was in charge of issuing the refund, was reportedly denied his share of the ‘cut’ by a junior officer from a separate FBR formation. This led to an altercation that soon escalated into a physical confrontation. The junior officer allegedly went so far as to order his staff to bring a pistol from his car.

Inquiry Launched, Officers Transferred

An FBR spokesperson confirmed the incident but declined to provide details until the facts were thoroughly investigated. However, the spokesperson noted that proactive action had been taken to remove all suspected stakeholders in the deal from their positions. A fact-finding inquiry has been ordered under the leadership of Abid Bodla, Chief Commissioner of the Corporate Tax Office in Lahore.

Extent of Corruption Unmasked

The incident has raised serious concerns about the extent of corruption within the FBR. The fact that a fist fight could break out over the misallocation of “speed-money” highlights the breakdown of ethics and the systemic failures that have allowed such practices to flourish.

Implications for FBR and Taxpayers

The FBR incident exposes the deep-rooted corruption within the organization responsible for collecting and managing tax revenues. It erodes public trust in the tax system and undermines the government’s efforts to improve revenue collection. Ultimately, taxpayers suffer from reduced services and higher taxes due to the misappropriation of funds by corrupt officials.