Web Desk – Updated September 24, 2020

LAHORE: Former Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Shabbar Zaidi has cited Islamabad’s ‘superficial lifestyle’ as one the reasons behind his resignation.

“The bureaucratic atmosphere of Islamabad does not suit me. You either mix in that society or become extremely lonely,” he added.

In an interview with a local media channel, Zaidi, however, rubbished rumours of being on bad terms with any other government officials during his six-month stint.

“I am also on very good terms with Hafeez Sheikh. I could not have gotten a better team than this. The decision to quit was a personal one due to my health. Maybe I wouldn’t have done so but my family put their foot down and said that I could not take up a post in the government,” he added.

“It’s not that the bureaucracy did not support me. I am sure that if asked, they would say that I did a better job than them,” the ex-FBR chairman said. “But In Islamabad, society is status-based. Is your grade 21, 22, 19, or 18? What size is your house? This kind of thing becomes torturous for a man like me.”

Zaidi also spoke of his long-standing regret regarding the general public and especially the youth’s poor knowledge of how financial systems work.

“I was a little disheartened by their (youth) answers. They said to us that they don’t have any interest in remuneration, they are not interested in IT facilities; they just need the security of being in government service,” he said.

Apologising to the nation, he added that he was especially guilty for disappointing the premier who “had hired him with much hope”.

Asked about his performance as the FBR chairman, he said that he would rate his performance in office 5 out of 10.

Earlier, in another interview with another channel, Zaidi had said, “Although I had the support of the prime minister, the finance minister, and the bureaucracy, the task was huge, and my mental attitude and health were not ready to cope with the government system.”

He also said that the attitude and mindset of 23,000 FBR employees was a cause of concern for him, adding that “reforming this mindset and restructuring the FBR required a lot of ground-work”.

Moreover, he opined that the achievement of revenue collection targets should not be the only measure of an FBR chairperson’s performance as it adds extra pressure on him, preventing him from bringing in the much needed structural reform