ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) – the anchor of Pakistan’s economic ship – has a new captain in the person Tariq Bajwa, a public servant with a long and distinguished record of service in the finance and revenue sectors. It is hoped that with the induction of Tariq Bajwa, there will be a distinctive positive change in the performance of FBR which has repeatedly failed to achieve its revenue targets in the last few years.
Mr Tariq Bajwa has had an illustrious career in public service spanning more than three decades. He brings to the job a wealth of professional knowledge, expertise and experience which will be of tremendous help to him in fulfilling the onerous responsibilities of his new challenging assignment.
Mr Tariq Bajwa has a distinguished academic record. He did his LLB from the University of Punjab and holds an MPA degree from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA. His professional expertise is Public Policy Formulation and Implementation with specialization in public and corporate finance. Financial planning, management and administration are his forte.
During more than 33 years of public service, he has held important positions in various government departments and handled a number of sensitive assignments with distinction. Before joining the Punjab government, Mr Tariq Bajwa served as Joint Secretary, the Ministry of Industries and was associated with a number of high profile projects to speed up the industrialization process in the country.
Since joining the Punjab government in September 2010, Mr Tariq Bajwa has been the sheet anchor of the Finance Department in Punjab. During the last three years he has played a key role in formulating budgetary proposals and estimates as per the policy guidelines of the government and public sector development needs. How crucial a role he has been playing is clear from the fact that that despite frequent reshuffle of higher bureaucracy he has not been moved from the Finance Department.
As an able and devoted civil servant known for hard work and honesty, Mr. Tariq Tariq Bajwa earned the trust of Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif who kept him on board in conceiving and implementing a number of vital Punjab government projects in the energy, transport, service reform and other sectors. When Shahbaz Sharif visited Turkey last year to solicit Turkish investment in the energy sector, Mr Tariq Bajwa was appointed the focal person for discussing project financing with Turkey’s EXIM Bank and finalizing related matters.
It is pertinent to mention here that former Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi paid rich tributes to Tariq Bajwa saying that his positive attitude had changed his concept about a finance secretary. He said that Tariq Bajwa had extended full cooperation to him at every stage and adopted measures for the benefit of the common man, adding that Provincial Secretary Finance was a kind hearted person and his cooperation in social sector programmes had been commendable. He also expressed satisfaction over the robust financial position of the province.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decision to induct Tariq Bajwa as FBR Chairman shows his concern over the dismal record of the country’s main revenue collection machinery. FBR once again missed the annual revenue collection target by huge margin of Rs 430 billion during the financial year from July 2012 to June 2013 despite imposing new taxes worth billions of rupees.
The FBR has provisionally collected taxes worth Rs1,940 billion during the last financial year 2012-13. FBR has been struggling to achieve the revenue collection target and revised it several times. The budgetary target of Rs2,381 billion was revised downward to Rs2,191 billion for 2012-13 and further slashed to Rs2,050 billion and then to Rs2007 billion. In a bid to achieve the revenue target, three tax amnesty schemes were announced, but FBR failed to achieve the revised target of Rs2007 billion.
The appointment of Tariq Bajwa as FBR Chairman is clearly a part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plan to bring in a team of competent, dedicated and honest bureaucrats to run the affairs of country. It is hoped that Tariq Bajwa would be given a free hand in collecting Rs2,475 billion tax target for financial year 2013-14. Given his past record, Tariq Bajwa is sure to give a new sense of direction to FBR and provide the kind of leadership needed to achieve the desired results.