Technocrats Crises in PTI Government: Problems & Solutions

Links of Published Versions of Article:

Technocrats Crises in PTI Government:

Problems & Solutions

 By:

Omer Zaheer Meer

CFA (USA), CPFA (UK), FCCA (UK), ACA (ICAEW – UK), AMLE (UK)

Prelude:

The economy of Pakistan is in a quagmire with many naysayers painting a doomsday scenario. They’d like you to believe that rock bottom has been hit and there’s no way out. But that’s not true. The change promised by Prime Minister Imran Khan is very much deliverable. His famous and often quoted claim of a 100% increase in taxation revenues is practical and achievable. The solutions are there, out-of-box solutions which “Status  Quo” advisors & bureaucrats would never be able to conceive and/or want to implement. Read on to know more about it.

The fortune and the misfortune:

PM Imran Khan is very lucky as he has a repute of being extremely honest, hardworking and well-meaning. Even his political opponents admit this in private and try to criticize him by attacking his currently deputed team(s). It is a strange predicament for the reasons outlined below.

PTI is also very fortunate political party as it has accumulated the finest of talented Pakistanis including lot of able and proven technocrats. These are the same people who used to stay away from even casting their votes let alone getting indulged in politics. But to his credit, PM Imran Khan changed their way of thinking and made them believe in change. To appreciate the magnitude of this blessing, just realize this that even Zulifqar Ali Bhutto or our great Quaid e Azam did not have as many talented people at their disposal. They had to make do with whatever was available. Our father of the nation himself termed the people he had in his team as mostly “khote sikke”.

There is however a problem. There is no bridge between the PM and the talented people in PTI with the same fire in their hearts as him and the same faith in his vision and leadership as he do.

During its opposition years, the PTI established a shadow cabinet by the name of “National Policy Council”. It had different teams, each headed by a top technocrat to work on the challenges for specific key ministries

Nearer the Church, farther from God:

While, PM Imran Khan is working tirelessly to make things happen and for this looking everywhere to bring in people with technical expertise, for some unknown reasons, the same is overlooked within his party. The insiders within PTI circles confide that the appointments being made are largely based on groupings sans any merits with people having no technical expertise been nominated on highly technical positions in contradiction to the PM’s own vision.

Non-technocrat political workers can and should be accommodated in thousands of non-technical positions. The technical positions however should be left for the technical members of PTI for these positions not only demand highly specialized skill sets but will also determine the outcome and legacy of PM Imran Khan’s government.

There should be a mechanism to identify and link the technocrats within PTI with the leadership in a non-partisan manner. Perhaps, some neutral technocrat within PTI would be best suited for this endeavor to avoid groupings and factions impacting the process.

The three keys to success:

There are three key requisites for success in achieving the PM’s dream of reforms. Normally the discussions about reforms and particularly the keenly discussed topic of reforming the revenue authorities and infrastructure, focuses on competency of key personnel, which is certainly important. What’s missing though, are couple of other equally vital bits.  They’re:

  • party affiliation so there is belief in the vision of the PM and
  • out of box thinking of a doer

The Enigmatic Resemblance:

There’s an uncanny resemblance between the untapped Pakistan with all the gifts of the nature, be it gold, copper, oil, coal, e.t.c. or the unexplored potential of tourism and PTI as a political party filled with all these untapped gifted professionals waiting to be utilized for the good of the country. This resemblance is enigmatic.

Like the symbols, the cures of the diseases are also similar. PTI, just like Pakistan, needs to explore its untapped resources of great minds of technocrats within.

The Reworked Bhutto Solution:

Despite all his ills and issues, Bhutto is normally billed as a genius; some even call him an evil genius for that matter. Irrespective of which side of the divide you are, one thing is for sure that the man knew politics and ground realities of South Asia.

Isn’t it astounding that almost four decades after his demise, he’s still alive in the hearts of millions despite all that unruly and disastrous stuff that has been done in his name, more so in Sindh than elsewhere? What is the magic about him then? Well there are a few. We’ll be discussing briefly the one concerning the topic at hand.

Bhutto famously appointed PPP workers at all key positions claiming that as people voted for his party to implement the agenda, only those loyal to that agenda can help achieve that. He questioned the loyalty and “merits” of the bureaucracy, e.t.c. He did go overboard to the extreme of appointing people solely on the basis of this criterion, leading to often incompetent or illiterate persons on key positions. Still, lessons derived from this can be used to put in motion the “reworked Bhutto solution”.

PTI’s Technocrats:

The solutions should simply involve using a mechanism to identify top quality technocrats within PTI and appointing them at key positions to implement PM Imran Khan’s vision. Care must be taken to ensure that technical competence, relevant experience, out of box thinking, knowledge of the local workings and a proven track record are there. It is vital that the processes be built and run by able technocrats within PTI and not those bound to oblige their groups sans merit.

FBR’s new Chairman:

Just this week, the new Chairman of FBR was announced and notified amid much hue and cry. Mr. Zaidi, a respected Chartered Accountant having no known previous affiliation with PTI and an ex Cabinet Member of the Caretaker Sindh Government setup primarily nominated by the PPP, was the choice. This speaks volume about the problem we’ve been discussing.

The idea was that someone “neutral” and “competent” from the private sector must be tried, having already tried both customs and income tax group officials as well as bureaucrats from other segments, without anyone delivering the “success” and “reforms” desired. However it resulted in two major issues.

The first problem stems from the manner in which this was executed. It’s hard to imagine how nobody was able to point out the famous “Ali Arshad Hakeem” case and take the then incumbent Chairman FBR as well as the board members into confidence before the announcement.

PM Imran Khan, being his bold and confident self, did the best possible to salvage a dire situation.

More importantly, this perfectly showcases the issue of being “nearer the church, farther from God”. The appointment practically meant that PTI felt it did not have anyone of a caliber matching Mr. Zaidi let alone be better. With all due regards to Mr. Zaidi, that is not the case and this is why PTI needs to get its house in order.

PTI National Policy Council Revenue Team:

During its opposition years, PTI established as shadow cabinet by the name of “National Policy Council”. It had different teams, each headed by a top technocrat to work on the challenges for specific key ministries. I was honored to Chair the “Revenue Team”.

Link of National Policy Council Notification

As Chairman of this team, I should disclose that PTI had a full fledge Revenue team working on reforms agenda which continuously and successfully assisted the leadership for several years including during the tough period of being in opposition. The work involved besides other areas, identifying both the major issues and their solutions concerning our taxation framework. Some of the proposals were even shared with other countries in a similar state of affairs as Pakistan at Global forums and these were hugely appreciated. This untapped treasure of PTI should be utilized and implemented. The details of such proposals shall be shared in my future write-ups so keep watching this space.

 Omer Zaheer Meer is a leading economist and tax expert who holds five top professional finance, investment and accountancy qualifications including anti-money laundering specialization along-with substantial experience and represents Pakistan on Global Tax Forum. His profile can be accessed at: https://omerzaheermeer.wordpress.com/about

 

Perfect New Year’s Gift – The Genius Jurist

Dear Reader,

Peace be on you. They say a picture speaks a thousand words so how many words will a picture with words speak?

Read the image below for a historic, pioneering and unique work. This recently published book is a fantastic new year gift for all particularly legal practitioners, academics, researchers, historians and students.

ACCA MNP Meeting

Dear Readers,

This is to share with you that I chairmed a very positive and productive meeting of the ACCA MNP.

Below is a summary of the non-confidential proceedings:

Major challenges, opportunities, strengths and improvements were discussed for betterment of the profession and wider society with a positive impact for our beloved Pakistan while also creating positive global impact.

Major breakthroughs, initiatives and proposals put forward at the IA2018 were shared with MNP members.

Relevant committees and societies’ tasks and targets were also finalized along with some other initiatives being put in motion.

Taxation Committee’s works were shared, being already in motion.

Key initiatives including, Thursday Huddles, Employer Engagements, Regulator Engagements, e.t.c. were also recommended to be given increased impetus.

Feel free to share your suggestions.

Sincerely,

Omer Zaheer Meer

Communicating Members’ Voices – Meeting with ACCA CEO

Communicating Members’ Voices – Meeting with ACCA CEO

Dear Readers,

Peace be on you all,

Had a very productive meeting with Ms. Helen Brand, CEO of ACCA, the largest global accountancy body in human history. In all my interactions, I’ve always found her to be very articulate and a methodical professional, yet at the same time being a very humble and friendly person.

Vital proposals regarding ACCA fraternity and brand, culminated from the feedbacks of the members and the collective wisdom of representatives, were shared and discussed at length with her and Sundeep Takwani. Sundeep is also an impressive professional.

Although it was peak period professionally, the importance of advocacy and contributing to my Alma-mater & wider society meant that I took extra time off work. And it was well worth it. The contents of the discussions were confidential, but let me share that ACCA believes in Thinking Ahead so look forward to the exciting times and initiatives ahead.

SAJJEED ASLAM, FCA arif mirza Ayla Majid Brian McEnery

 

CLICK HERE to visit my Channel

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A Visit to the Scottish Parliament – Lessons in Democratic Norms

Dear Readers,

Peace be on you all,

In this post I’m sharing a fantastic experience of witnessing a true modern  democracy at work during my visit to the Scottish Parliament. When I reached, there were a couple of small protests going on right in front of the main entrance of the Parliament.

With people protesting outside, the parliamentarians kept addressing the issues inside in the debating chamber in front of their electorate. The openness, transparency & accountability while giving respect to the voices of the voters, is how it is supposed to be.

Giving respect to the masses while holding the representatives accountable is the true essence of a real democratic system.

It is a lesson for countries all over the world. What’s worth mentioning here is that although Romans had a semi-democratic setup, that was largely selective. The first model of a true modern democratic setup was established by Prophet Muhammad PBUH in the state of Medina.

Let’s hope we get to see further improvements in democratic setup of Scotland and the rest of the world.  I’ll now sign off by sharing that the Scottish people are very friendly and have a good-nature.

Enjoy the pictures below and see you here soon with the next blog post.

 

ACCA Budget Proposals 2018-19

Dear ACCA Members and the entire Professional Accounting and Finance fraternity,
Peace be on you all (Assalam O Alikum),

This somehow, seemed to have been missed by my team.

Anyhow for records purposes, it’s with great pleasure that I, as Chairman ACCA Taxation Committee, share ACCA’s Budget proposals. We started with twelve global taxation tenets of ACCA and in addition to other core recommendations, covered the game-changing recent technologies and CPEC, which has not been done by any other organization so far. This will be our USP. Similarly some of our proposals for structural reforms and for amendments in tax laws are also unique.

As for sectoral proposals, some key sectors are covered. For others, you have viewed the proposals by our team which were mostly standard and covered within the Income Tax and Sales Tax sections.

These are been widely shared with key stakeholders and some of our proposals have been adopted by the Government and more are expected to be in the budget. I hope you’ll find this informative and share in your circles with pride in ACCA brand. We look forward to receiving your kind feed-back and will share about the the pre-budget sessions with your good-self too.

ACCA’s Budget Proposals’ Link

Kind Regards,

Omer

Millennium Law and Corporate Company (MLCC) – The Pioneer ACCA Practising & Legal Firm in Pak

Millennium Law and Corporate Company (MLCC) – The Pioneer ACCA Practising & Legal Firm in Pak

Dear Readers,  Peace be on you all,

It is a pleasure to introduce Millennium Law and Corporate Company (MLCC), the Pioneer ACCA practicing & legal firm in Pakistan to your good-selves. Please read this post for the introduction.

  1. Company Name: Millennium Law and Corporate Company (MLCC)
  2. Web: http://www.mlcc.pk
  3. Contacts: 042-37242434  / 0322-4219292
  4. Emails: ozmeer@mlcc.pk
  5. Address: Bashir Mansion, 2 Turner Road, Masjid AG Office , Lahore, Pakistan

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Click here for: Key Associations & Profile Published by ACCA

 

Profile of Millennium Law & Corporate Company

  • 30 + Years’ “Young”

Millennium Law & Corporate Company (MLCC) has a background of thirty (30) years plus history of professional excellence stemming from its parent practice. It used to be focused solely on legal practice including corporate matters.

  • Way Forward – One stop solution

MLCC was expanded to include a new division for providing further corporate services too. This led to the expansion of the services to include areas such as taxation, accountancy, finance, corporate (SECP) services, internal audit, statutory audit, assurance, advisory, risk management, BPO and professional trainings in addition to legal matters within the services offered by MLCC.

All areas are handled by specialized teams of qualified Chartered Certified Accountants, Chartered Accountants, Chartered Financial Analysts, Chartered Public Finance Accountants and/or Senior Advocates delivering excellence.

  • Partners

The firm operates with specialized teams dealing with relevant areas under four (4) partners, two of whom are qualified and experienced Chartered Certified Accountants members while one is an ex legal advisor Federal Land Commission (Government of Pakistan) and another is an ex deputy Attorney General of Pakistan.

  • Pioneer ACCA Practising Firm in Pakistan

In 2015, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) took a giant leap in Pakistan and initiated practising license program for the country.

  • MLCC became the pioneer Legal & Accountancy practising firm in Pakistan with
  • Mr. Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA Managing Partner, (Corporate Services & Taxation) at MLCC being awarded the first ever ACCA practising license in Pakistan.

Before that history was made when:

  • Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA became the first ever ACCA member to get admitted to the prestigious Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA).
  • He was later joined by Mr. Ali Zaheer Meer ACCA who is now a partner at MLCC and another ACCA member at LTBA.

Millennium Law & Corporate Company has built a reputation for quality services based on value creation and issue resolutions with time-specified deliverables. Integrity, transparency and  confidentiality are the hallmarks of the services delivered.  It is now the premier ACCA practising firm in the country and one of the leaders in the taxation, advisory and corporate services sectors.

  • Distinguished Collaborations

MLCC through its partners is currently representing Pakistan at the Global Tax Forum (UK), Chairing the Taxation Clinic at LCCI, Chairing the MNP (equivalent of local council) of ACCA in Pak, Chairing the Liaisons and sitting on the publication committees of LTBA, Chairing the Taxation Committee of ACCA and several think-tanks including Hamdard Thinkers’ Forum and Millat Thinkers’ Forum. Furthermore, has also been represented at the Taxation Committee of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry besides been associated with several professional bodies and institutions such as:

  • CFAI (Chartered Financial Analyst Institute) – USA
  • UKSIP (UK Society of Investment Professionals) – UK
  • ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) – UK
  • CIPFA (The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy) – UK
  • PRMIA (Professional Risk Managers’ International Association) – USA
  • PRIMA (Public Risk Management Association) – USA
  • LTBA (Lahore Tax Bar Association) – (Pak)
  • LCCI (Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry) – (Pak)
  • MPDD {Management and Professional Development Department} – (Pak)
  • Hamdard Thinkers’ Forum – (Pak)
  • Millat Thinkers’ Forum – (Pak)

MLCC’s clientele also includes some of the most distinguished names including several parliamentarians, corporations, public sector entities as well as the SME sector. Out key clients and/or associations along-with the report on MLCC published by the largest global accountancy body ACCA can be found at the link below:

Why was MLCC started?

Managing Partner’s Views:

It is my strong and educated belief that the professional qualification and a proper rigorous training program equips one with the relevant skills, education and expertise to be the best not just technically but on the value addition side of being an entrepreneur.

With an early start to my career resulting in sufficient experience, On my return to Pakistan from UK, I felt it was the right time to launch an ACCA practising firm. Also it was an opportunity to contribute back to the profession and professional fraternity in several ways.

However ACCA did not have a local practising license back then. Nevertheless we upheld the brand ACCA and pioneered in an area deemed alien for ACCA members at the time, i.e. local taxation. We were lucky to have an existing track record of several decades of a quality legal firm. This was expanded into the pioneer quality Accountancy and Legal firm in Pakistan.

Within a short span of time we stood out from the crowd delivering excellence and quality beyond norms of the market. We then started expanding into other areas such as corporate services, advisory, audit, advisory, assurance, risk management, e.t.c. with equally good results.

The milestones so far

Since becoming the pioneer Accountancy and Legal practising firm in Pakistan, some of the major milestones achieved by MLCC are outlined below:

  • Establishment of our non-legal services headquarter at the prime location of Bashir Mansion, 2 Turner Road, Lahore which is opposite FBR, close to Appellate Tribunal, behind Lahore High Court, adjacent AG Office and practically in the hub of all the action.
  • Joining of Mr. Ali Zaheer Meer as the second ACCA partner of the Firm
  • Expansion intro value addition areas beyond taxation including internal audit, advisory, risk management, corporate services, e.t.c.
  • Award of the practising license and hence becoming the pioneer ACCA & Legal practising firm in Pakistan
  • Start of our training division
  • Establishment of a branch offices for facilitation of our clientele.
  • Partnership with ACCA Pakistan for the CPD trainings of ACCA fraternity and beyond
  • Attendance of our CPD programs and training events by high-profile professionals including owners, directors and even non-ACCA partners of other renowned firms
  • Publication and launch of a research study on indirect taxation across the MESA (Middle-East and South-Asia region) in collaboration with ACCA and EY
  • Working with top names in various sectors including the likes of National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, MPDD, ACCA, LCCI, KCCI, LTBA, HBL, e.t.c.
  • Launch of our ACCA trainees induction program

Advantages and benefits of dealing with MLCC

We offer several benefits for the business community, professional fraternity and the society at large. Some of the major ones include:

  • Global exposure with strong Local ties and connections
  • Well qualified and experienced teams
  • Quality services
  • Excellence focused
  • Results oriented
  • Timely and efficient deliverance
  • Opening up of new possibilities
  • Increased efficiency
  • Collaborations
  • Peace of mind