ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led government defeated the opposition as the National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Finance Bill 2021-22 amid uproar by the opposition and in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The resolution to table the bill was approved by 172 votes to 138. It was passed by getting the minimum number of votes needed for the approval of a bill.

After approval of the resolution, clause by clause discussion began on the Finance Bill. So far, amendments proposed by the treasury members have been approved while those proposed by opposition members have been rejected.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the National Assembly for the vote. Former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also attended the assembly session.

The session began with Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri in the chair. After that Speaker Asad Qaiser presided over the session and Qasim Suri joined the members for counting.

A resolution to present the Finance Bill for approval was adopted after vote count following an objection from an opposition member over verbal voting.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen introduced the Finance Amendment Bill 2021 in the House which was opposed by the opposition.

The House gave verbal approval of the motion to introduce the Finance Bill which was challenged by Nawab Talpur after which the Speaker directed vote count.

The resolution to table the Finance Bill got 172 votes in favor while 138 votes were against it.

Earlier, PPP MNA Nafeesa Shah had criticised the government’s budget measures, saying that the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) was being turned into another NAB.

She said that no one should allow the FBR to be given the powers of judge and jury, adding that some points in the budget were too vague to understand.

PML-N MNA Khurram Dastagir lashed out at the government, saying that it was targeting the middle and poor classes.

“The government will not be able to achieve its tax collection target next year,” he said. “The summary of the government’s economic policy is this: the rich are satisfied while the poor are in pain,” he added.

The PML-N lawmaker said that the budget aimed to increase the sales tax by Rs383bn. He turned his guns towards the government, holding it responsible for the recent gas shortage in Karachi. 

Shaukat Tarin

The finance minister criticised the opposition and said that only food inflation had increased during the PTI government’s tenure due to the policies of past governments.

He said that the government was focusing on the agriculture sector which had been ignored in the past.

He said that the government was forced to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to the fiscal deficit it inherited when it came into power.

He said that the government will go after willful tax defaulters, adding that it was necessary to enhance the tax to GDP ratio to 20 per cent.

Shaukat Tarin also dispelled the opposition’s claims that indirect taxes had been imposed, adding that majority of Pakistan’s trade sector was not under the tax net. “Consumers are paying it but we are not receiving it,” he said, adding that the government will also focus on this.

Finance Bill

Certain amendments were introduced to the Finance Bill, including a tax relief of Rs80-90 billion. In addition, through an amendment to Article 203A, tax relief would be provided to the tax filer.

As per Article 203A of the Finance Bill, if a tax filer evades more than Rs100 million, he will be arrested. In contrast, the non-filer would be arrested for tax evasion of more than Rs25 million.

Under Article 203A of the Finance Bill, arrests will be approved by a relevant committee and would be subject to permission of the finance minister, FBR chairman and FBR senior member.

Furthermore, the Finance Bill amends a 7 per cent reduction in GST on poultry feed, returning it to 10 per cent instead of 17 per cent; a 2.5 per cent reduction in federal excise duty on small vehicles; whereas 2.5 per cent increase in excise duty on vehicles up to 1000cc.

Implementation of the Finance Bill will begin on July 1, 2021.

The writer is a member of staff
The reporting desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk

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