ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office has protested against the Finance Ministry’s decision to impose 35% income tax on foreign allowance given to diplomats while posted abroad and threatened to go on pen down strike at headquarters and missions abroad.

The tax imposed by the Finance Ministry on foreign service officers is also applied on their entertainment allowance, education subsidy, government accommodation, medical facility, sumptuary allowance, transport and every facility available to officers during posting abroad.

Senior officers in the Foreign Office told The Nation that they have written to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to take up the matter immediately with the Finance Ministry otherwise they would shut down Foreign Office and Pakistan embassies and consulates abroad.

The Foreign Ministry believes that DMG, now known as Pakistan Administrative Service, officers posted in the Finance Ministry are involved in depriving foreign service officers of their financial benefits through imposition of this tax.

The officers also protested over the move of the Finance Division of executive allowance given to officers from BPS 17-22 but excluded the Foreign Ministry of this importance financial incentive.

The government has recently announced executive allowance @1.5 times of the basic salary to all officers from Grade 17-22 in all ministries except Foreign Office with notion that its administration is not in the hands of Establishment Division but in FO itself. Foreign Office believes that Foreign Ministry is also under federal government and entitled to such executive allowance.

Talking to The Nation, Pakistani senior diplomats posted abroad explained that it means officers have to spend entertainment allowance for the government interests and even then they are required to give 35% tax on it from their pocket.

Threatens to go on pen-down strike at headquarters, missions abroad

One Pakistani ambassador posted abroad said this move would not help Pakistan in getting foreign policy objectives fulfilled, particularly the economic diplomacy, which requires extra resources to reach out to foreign companies and investors.

It has been calculated that annual tax imposed on foreign allowance will be greater than the allowance given to officers and staff  by the  government.

The officers believe that in this situation it would be difficult to run their kitchen abroad keeping in view the global financial recession and price hike. The Foreign Ministry also protested against Finance Ministry discriminatory policy on transport facility to foreign service officers.

In the outgoing financial year Finance Division allowed replacement of vehicles as per rules for commercial counsellors and other groups but denied to Foreign Office, this policy has been continued in the current financial year.

As per rules after every 7 years, official vehicles given to officers are replaced in the Foreign Mission.

Now heads of missions are using either old cars or taxis for their office work and their subordinate officers belonging to other groups of civil service are having new cars.