Parties slug it out, force govt to put GST bill on hold | Pakistan Today

Parties slug it out, force govt to put GST bill on hold

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided not to table the Reformed General Sales Tax (GST) Bill in the forthcoming session of the National Assembly as it failed to build consensus on the proposed tax law with its coalition partners – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) -not budging from their positions.
“We will not table the bill in the National Assembly session staring from December 18,” a senior parliamentarian, asking not to be named, told Pakistan Today on Friday. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, which met on the first three days of the current month, did not hold any meetings after the members indulged in personal point-scoring with PML-Q likeminded group MNA Kashmala Tariq leading a revolt against Chairwoman Fauzia Wahab.
As the committee has not moved forward to further discuss the proposed bill and formulate its recommendations for the National Assembly, it clearly appears that the government is faced with resistance not only from the business community but also from the political parties.
The committee is also not scheduled to meet before the National Assembly session.
“The meeting of the committee will be convened after all political parties agree to support the proposed bill and I don’t expect that a consensus will develop soon,” the official said. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, talking to reporters while returning from Turkey, said the proposed tax could not be imposed without its approval by the National Assembly, suggesting that the government’s allies were opposed to it because the government would not delay the passage of the reformed GST bill if the MQM and the JUI-F had supported it.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is also opposed to the imposition of the reformed GST and Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh’s three-hour meeting with Nawaz Sharif on Friday also remained unsuccessful on this issue as the PML-N chief did not agree to support the government. Though the PML-Q has also taken a position not to vote for the proposed law, the government is working on a strategy to rope in the former ruling party to neutralise the MQM and the JUI-F’s resistance and the PML-N’s opposition to the RGST bill and get the bill through.
The official said the government had also decided to seek three months extension from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to meet the conditions for the release of $3.6 billion under $11.3 billion stand-by arrangement agreed with the IMF. “A letter will be sent to the IMF in a few days asking for three months extension,” the official said.

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