ISLAMABAD: The upper house of Parliament adopted on Tuesday the recommendations of its standing committee on finance, income and economic affairs concerning the 2021 (additional) finance bill or “mini-budget” which were then sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
The vice-president of the Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi chaired the session of the Senate.
Talha Mehmood, chair of the Senate panel, presented the committee’s report on the mini-budget adopted by the House.
Speaking on the House floor, Mehmood lambasted the federal government for bringing in the mini-budget. “It’s the budget of the IMF (International Monetary Fund). This will open the floodgates for inflation, ”he said.
The chairman of the Senate committee said the tax exemptions removed in the mini-budget were well over Rs 343 billion. “This mini-budget would lead to unprecedented inflation which would force people to resort to the heist,” Mehmood warned. “It’s an inflation tsunami,” he lamented.
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The senator condemned what he called “tyranny” by the government against the business community. “If you want to win the battle of the economy, then trust the business world. Businessmen are not thieves. This country, this Parliament, works with the money of these people and you (the government) call them thieves, ”he said.
The chairman of the Senate committee categorically criticized the government for taxing edible and dairy products such as bread, milk, yogurt, “naan” and related products.
He said drug prices would be doubled due to the mini-budget and would be beyond the reach of ordinary people.
During the senator’s fiery speech, the Deputy Speaker of the Senate cut his microphone, which sparked strong protests from the opposition.
Opposition Leader Yousuf Raza Gilani has called for a debate on the Murree tragedy while the Senate Deputy Speaker said members of the Senate Finance Committee are keen to share their views on the mini-budget.
The Senate panel rejected some key provisions of the 2021 Supplementary Finance Bill, including the provision of digital payment, the disclosure of information on public office holders, the increase in withholding tax from 10 to 15 for percent of cellular services, 17 percent sales tax on seeds, 17 percent sales tax on locally made cell phones, and increased withholding tax rate on the purchase of motor vehicles.
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The Senate panel also unanimously rejected the tax imposed on naan and bread.
The committee also rejected the proposed tax on yogurt, butter, desi ghee, milk, cheese, cream and whey.
On January 4, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin tabled a copy of the mini-budget in the Senate which was referred to the Senate panel.
Constitutionally, the upper house of parliament can debate a finance bill at length and make recommendations accordingly, but it has virtually no role in budget legislation since it is entirely up to the National Assembly either. fully or partially accept these recommendations, or reject them outright.
Article 73 of the constitution which deals with parliamentary affairs with regard to finance bills reads as follows: “(1) Notwithstanding everything contained in Article 70, a finance bill shall emanate from the National Assembly: containing the annual budget statement, is presented to the National Assembly, a copy is sent to the Senate which may, within fourteen days, make recommendations on this subject to the National Assembly .
(1A) The National Assembly examines the recommendations of the Senate and after the bill has been adopted by the Assembly with or without incorporation of the recommendations of the Senate, it is presented to the President for assent.
The House is due to meet again on Friday.
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