Senate passes budgetary recommendations on Finance Bill‚ 2013

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The Senate unanimously approved recommendations on the Finance Bill 2013, containing the Annual Budget Statement, in the eighth sitting of the 95th session on Friday, following which the National Assembly will consider the 113 recommendations made by the Senate.

The session of the Upper House of parliament opened under the chairmanship of Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari in the chair to resume the budgetary debate.

Standing Committee on Finance chairperson Nasreen Jalil laid before the House the report of the committee on the proposals for making recommendations on the finance bill. The report contained 113 recommendations in connection with providing relief to the people that were prepared by the Senate body on finance.

Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control Chairman Muhammad Talha Mahmood presented the report on the inordinate delay in issuance of passports by the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports‚ Islamabad.

The Standing Committee on Industries and Production chairman laid the report of for the period from March 2012 to March 2013.

On a point of order‚ Nasreen Jalil expressed reservations over the deteriorating law and order in Karachi, particularly the targeting of MQM workers and demanded government adopt serious measures.

Referring to the press conference of Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Senator Raza Rabbani said the federal government did not have the right to give ultimatum to the Sindh government to improve law and order in a month.

Such ultimatum, the PPP senator added, might create misunderstanding as to whether it was to subvert the mandate of Sindh people.

To this, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said that Nisar Ali Khan’s statement must not be taken into wrong context.

Elaborating further, he said the interior minister wanted to improve coordination between federal and provincial governments so as to resolve the issue of law and order.

Winding up the debate on budget for fiscal year 2013-14‚ Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said reducing fiscal deficit was a big challenge for the government.

He said reducing fiscal deficit was a big challenge for the government but hoped it would succeed in achieving the goal.

Dar maintained that the government fully respected the verdict of the Supreme Court on imposing additional GST.

However‚ he told the House that in his personnel opinion, enhancing GST was not illegal, urging parliament to make legislation to abolish 1931 act.

Dar said the government was determined to take all decisions in parliament, and the particular decision was adopted to correct the direction of our economy.

The PML-N senator said there would be no additional tax imposed on salaried persons drawing Rs 2.5 million rupees annually.

“Our target is to bring 0.5 million new people into the tax net,” he said.

He rejected the notion that the budget was given by bureaucrats and “if it were a budget given by bureaucrats, the PSDP would not have gone beyond Rs 425 billion”.

Dar said no institution would be provided with secret funds except secret agencies.

To a query on tax on Haj tour operators, the finance minister clarified that no tax had been imposed on pilgrims, rather the tax had been imposed on the income of tour operators.

Over Pak-IMF talks, he said Pakistan would hold talks on its own terms, adding that Pakistan had to return three billion dollars of debt in a year’s time and the government was taking measures for this purpose.