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There is nothing in Finance Bill except more taxes: aleem Mandviwalla

Business Recorder :  ZAHEER ABBASI & ALI HUSSAIN 

ISLAMABAD: Former Finance Minister and Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance Senator Saleem Mandviwalla on Wednesday said that the government has not provided any incentives to exporters and other sectors in Finance bill 2017 other than burdening them with additional taxes of Rs 120 billion. 

“There is nothing in the Finance bill 2017 except an increase in taxes”, said Mandviwalla, while talking to Business Recorder. 

He said he was unable to find anything in the budget that could have substantiated Finance Minister’s claims that the government has provided incentives including in terms of taxes to exporters and other industrial sectors. 

Mandviwalla argued that Rs 1320 billion new taxes have been imposed by the government during the last four years which have rendered the country’s exports uncompetitive in the international market and badly hit other industries as well. 

The Finance bill 2017 contains allocation for uniforms of Customs officials as well as a proposal to challenge the Supreme Court decision declaring cabinet approval mandatory for fiscal and budgetary measures. 

“The committee was surprised to see that the government through the Finance bill is going against the apex court decision and if the proposal is approved by National Assembly, the cabinet approval would not be required and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Finance Minister would be empowered to unilaterally take decisions on fiscal and budgetary measures”, he said. 

Mandviwalla said that committee was against this proposal. He said the committee also rejected the proposal of validation of the SRos issued by the FBR and suggested that their validation should be done by the federal cabinet. 

The committee forwarded more than 40 recommendations for inclusion in the Finance bill 2017 after consultation with almost all the stakeholders, representing various industries in week long discussions in the committee meetings. However, he added that being committee chairman he was completely in the dark as to whether the recommendations of the committee had been incorporated or not. 

“We are in the process of going through the Finance bill approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday to find out as to how many recommendations proposed by the committee were incorporated in the budget for the next fiscal year,” he added. 

In all as many as 275 recommendations to the Finance bill and development budget were proposed by the committee for National Assembly with major amendments in the Finance bill 2017 including special package of Rs 20 billion to revive Karachi’s infrastructure and boost development, realistic targets for FBR, 3 percent National Finance Commission (NFC) award for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and restructuring of PIA, WAPDA, PEPCO, Pakistan Steel, Pakistan Railways and other state-owned enterprises (SOEs). 

Other reformations of the committee included: (i) inputs/outputs of educational stationery should be zero rated from sales tax under the Fifth Schedule to the Sales Tax Act 1990; (ii) GST on all types of fertilizers may be abolished or reduced; (ii) procedure for submissions of tax returns be made simple; (iv) the customs duty of 20% on electric cigarettes and betel nuts be further increased by 10%; (v) incomes from all sources including from agricultural produce may be brought under the tax net and proposal pending with Council of Common Interests with regard to uniform tax on agricultural income be finalized. 

The committee also recommended that federal government should take immediate measures to plug leakages and corruption in Public Sector enterprises in order to eliminate the current annual losses of over Rs 500 billion. 

The opposition political parties submitted a total of 1713 cut motions in National Assembly on budgetary allocations of various ministries, divisions and departments. 

However, the House rejected all the cut motions because opposition was boycotting the session and no discussion could take place on the performance of various ministries and their attached departments through cut motions in their respective budgets. 

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