Govt took loans of Rs 4.6tr in two and a half years, says Khurshid Shah
Opposition members demand reduction in oil prices
Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah while criticising the policies of the government said that it had taken Rs 4,600 billion of loans in the last two and half years.
The opposition leader while speaking on the floor of house on reduction of petroleum products’ prices in the international market and Essential Services Maintenance Act 1956 said the government is receiving Rs 300 billion in taxes on petrol and diesel.
Shah said that balanced opportunities should be provided to both opposition and treasury benches.
He urged the speaker that his yesterday’s speech should be telecast live like other ministers.
He also asked for live telecast of the House’s proceedings.
The opposition leader said the government is charging on average 37 per cent sales tax on diesel, petrol and furnace oil which is very high. He said the government’s oil import bill has also decreased due to declining oil prices in the international market but the relief has not been passed on to the masses.
He said the monthly usage of oil in the country is 158 million barrels, adding that the government is taking 20 per cent on furnace oil and 25.5 per cent tax on petrol. The average sales tax on petroleum products is 37 per cent, he said, adding that this tax was 16 to 19 per cent during the tenure of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Shah said that the total oil import bill of the country was $ 11-12 billion during PPP’s regime while currently it fluctuates between $5-6 billion.
He said that Rs 480 billion of circular debt was cleared to end load-shedding but people were still facing power outages.
He said that load shedding had actually increased since PPP’s tenure and despite tall claims of the government, the circular debt had once again surged to Rs 300 billion.
He demanded of the government to withdraw its decision to impose Rs 101 billion Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) immediately.
He said a sum of Rs 680 billion was being collected annually under the head of various taxes while it was a mere Rs 280 billion during PPP’s rule.
He further said the price of electricity per unit was Rs 8 during the previous government but the current government had jacked up the prices to Rs 12 to 18 per unit. He said the nation is asking the government why the loans have been increased despite increasing the prices of petroleum and electricity.
Khurshid Shah said the government after coming into power, released 27 SROs on sales tax, 33 on income tax and six SROs on excise duty. He was of the opinion that the prime minister should remember his address to the house in 2010 in which he talked about poor segments of the society.
The National Assembly held further debate on a motion regarding the situation arising out of non-reduction of oil prices in accordance with the international market and implementation of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 in PIA.
OPPOSITION PARTIES RAIL AGAINST GOVERNMENT:
Resuming the debate, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad said that PIA’s fleet had increased but there was no increase in its revenues. He said that after the lifting of sanctions against Iran, Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project should be implemented to overcome energy shortage in the country.
“We have to reduce our dependency on foreign loans as 47 per cent of the country’s total revenue is spent on debt servicing,” he said.
Asad Umar criticised the government for increasing taxes on petroleum products. He pointed out that petroleum products are cheaper in 72 countries of the world, adding that diesel is available at the lowest rates in Sri Lanka and India.
He demanded of the government that prices of diesel and kerosene oil should be slashed by Rs 5 per liter and Rs 20 per liter respectively besides withdrawing GIDC.
Commenting on PIA’s issue, he said the government consciously pushed the national flag carrier into its current condition in order to take the decision of their own choice. He said that Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) is out of order for the last eight years and the government is not issuing money for it in a bid to give it to Hussain Nawaz. He further said the government is trying to give some individuals benefit of privatization of the national assets.
He suggested that professional and competent peoples should be inducted in the boards of PIA, PSM and other state entities to make them profitable.
Dr Farooq Sattar termed the imposition of sales tax on POL products as unlawful and unconstitutional. He said the government is violating the apex court’s orders by imposing taxes, adding that the time to go to people had arrived. He said that the incumbent government has increased taxes from 5 per cent to 70 per cent. He asked the government to ensure consultation with all the stakeholders on the matter of PIA, asking it to withdraw notices to PIA employees.
Parliamentary leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Sahibzada Tariqullah said that a parliamentary committee should be set up to review prices of petroleum products. He said that maximum relief should be passed on to the masse on account of reduction in prices of fuel in the international market.
He said prices of essential commodities have increased manifold despite sharp decreased in petroleum products.
He said that multinational companies have also increased prices of life saving drugs by 15 per cent and the government should take immediate steps to control the prices.
He suggested that the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 in PIA should be withdrawn and the privatisation of the national flag carrier be deferred for one year.
He was optimistic that PIA could be revived again and put on the right path to transform it into a profit making airline.
PUT YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER, TREASURY BENCHES HIT BACK:
Capt (r) Safdar of PML-N came hard on PTI and MQM lawmakers Asad Umar and Farooq Sattar and said that the government had started various projects including the Neelum Jehlum Hydropower and Dasu project. He said the prime minister had not only released a hefty amount to the Neelum Jehlum project but also started work on the transmission line.
He said that the World Bank was also ready to finance the Dasu hydropower project and it would be completed in two phases.
Capt (r) Safdar said the PTI’s sit-in delayed various projects including those related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC.
He said the resignation of Lt Gen (r) Hamid, head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)’s Ehtesab Commission had exposed the performance of PTI’s government.
He said that PTI should compare its provincial government’s performance with the federal government.
He said that the finance minister had successfully arranged finances for Diamer-Bhasha dam.
He said that maximum development funds during the past two and half years had lapsed in KP due to inefficiency of the provincial government.
Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi announced that MQM MNA Rehan Hashmi had tendered his resignation from NA-245, Karachi-IV.
Later the House was adjourned till Wednesday at 10:30AM.