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Event Title: Saleem Mandviwalla Presides over a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue at the Parliament House

Event Date: 2022-11-23

The Federal Minister of State for Finance, Aisha Ghaus Pasha informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Wednesday that the restriction for foreign travelers to buy US dollars only through cheques and the cash carrying limit reduction by US$ 5000 from US $ 10,000 will remain in force to further strengthen the regulatory regime, improve documentation and control illegal activity in FCY, it was advised that all foreign currency outward remittances/sale transaction of USD 2,000/- or above (or equivalent in other currencies) against PKR shall be conducted by the Exchange Companies through bank transfer/ cheque from personal account of the customer. It was further informed that to control unnecessary outflow of funds, State Bank of Pakistan has revised the cash carrying limits abroad except to Afghanistan to 5000 US $ per visit and 30,000 annual limit per person from 18 years and above whereas below 18 the limit is 2500 US $ per visit and 15,000 US $ annually .

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Wednesday took serious notice of the irrational and overconfident behavior of the officials of the Federal Board of Revenue for erroneous notices, illicit harassment and illegal charges of anti-money laundering on senators and tax filers and demanded suspension of the officers involved in such activities. This was taken up in the senate committee while discussing the issue raised by Senator Dr. Afnan Ullah Khan regarding illegal harassment by the FBR officers to citizens/filers on the pretext of increase in asses which creates unrest amongst the citizens/filers. Senator Afnan Ullah Khan said that one official of the FBR namely Khalid Sultan who is the commissioner spoke to him through telephone and said that he is a very powerful bureaucrat and no one can challenge him. Senator Afnan Ullah khan while disapproving the thug behavior of the FBR officials said that I have been cleared by the Islamabad High Court and Federal Tribunal and the officer intentionally with mala fide intention is trying to influence me which will not be tolerated and I will take the matter till the end unless the officer is being suspended. The stance of the FBR officials was that the assessing officer upon analyzing the discrepancy and considering it definite information, issued notice, as per assessment procedures, no approval from the commissioner is required for confronting discrepancies based on definite information , and assessment of such cases falls within the purview of DCIRs/ACIRs. It was further informed that the senator neither filed application for rectification nor requested for revision.  The Federal Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha also condemned the over confident behavior of the officers of the FBR and said that she will take up the matter personally with the Chairman FBR and the Special Assistant to Prime Minister, and serious action will be taken against the officer to avoid such types of threats in the future. The committee decided to further investigate in the matter, before taking it into the Privilege committee.  The matter of Senator Kamil Ali Agha regarding notices issues by FBR to all online filers was also disposed of. The FBR investigated into the matter and identified 31 similar erroneous cases in which the proceedings have been dropped. The matter of Kamal Ali Agha was disposed and the committee demanded details of such cases in all sectors of the country, to which MOS agreed and assured that required information will be submitted to the Committee in two weeks and also assured that FBR will deal with online filers with care and accuracy.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue met on Wednesday under the Chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla here at the Parliament House, and concluded various agenda item while sought further reports on the rest.

While disposing of the matter of point of public importance raised by Senator Kamran Murtaza regarding the Issue of Daily Wager/employees deputed in Customs Department in Balochistan, he showed amazement that the Federal Board of revenue on two occasions submitted two different replies with regards to matter of daily wagers who were discontinued on expiry of their hiring period were employed as helpers on temporary basis on monthly lum sum and the daily wagers who were discontinues on expiry of their hiring period were on purely temporary basis. Since these daily wagers were not regular government employees, the question of quota position of Balochistan does not arise.

While taking briefing on the tobacco industry raids and breaking locks of shops and stores Senator Dilawar Khan requested the Ministry to further probe in the matter and provide evidence with regards to the allegation of cartons found in the dwelling houses. He said that either he will resign the seat of the Senator or will pay compensation amounting to 1 crore each carton if the allegation of cartons in houses proved true. According to the FBR report on the enforcement action 348 cartons were recovered. The stockiest in these raids could not provide tax invoices and related documents to substantiate their claim of legally purchased/duty-paid goods consequently. The goods were seized in accordance to law.  The committees recommend to further probe in the matter and sought report for further deliberation.

On the matter referred by the Chairman Senate regarding imposition of regulatory duty on Polyester Filament Yarn raised by Senior Vice Chairman, Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association, referred to the Committee on 20th October, 2022. The Fedreal Miniter of State for finance said that the summary was rejected by the cabinet, she further said that the summary will again be placed in the cabinet after recommendations proposed by the Senate Committee. The matter was deffered for further deliberation. 

Senator Saleem Mandviwalla while taking up the matter of number of cases of FBR pending for adjudication in courts and total amount stuck due to litigation said that the FBR needs to stop filing uselessness cases. A detail of pending litigation cases customs as on 31.10.2022 were tabled in the committee with a total number of 13,296  involving amount of 229.7 Bl. Rs/-

The committee also lamented repeated and heavy taxation of electricity bills and a number of food items and items of daily use by the citizens of Pakistan. The FBR presented the details of sales tax collected through electricity bills from the consumers which is 17 pc applicable across the board on supply of electricity being a taxable good. 3 pc is charged from the persons who have not obtained sales tax registration or who are not on active taxpayer list, and Extra tax is chargeable on supplies of electric power to industrial or commercials connections. Rs, 1950 plus 12 pc of the amount exceeding Rs. 20,000 for commercial consumers Rs. 1950 Plus 5 pc of the amount exceeding Rs. 20,000 for industrial consumers.  The FBR presented that the GSR regime is structured in a manner targeted towards placing reduced burden upon low/middle income segments of society. Goods related to basic human needs are either not subject to GST or are taxed to a minimal extent for example local supply of basic food items is zero-rated.

The committee received briefing on containers stuck at port Qasim due to Customs. The FBR apprised the committee that presently 988 containers are held up at port Qasim, Karachi due to State Bank of Pakistan’s Circular through which such consignments are being released after the approval of the State Bank of Pakistan. It was also apprised that in addition to above around 860 containers are also held due to non-fulfilment of various IPO conditions contraventions/mis-declaration and courts cases. The Chairman Committee said that why not the disputed items should be moved out of the courts, the matter was disposed of.

The EXIM bank also gave briefing on its progress till 6-11-2022 regarding approval process of operationalization of the bank. The committee sought the next report on 31st January 2022.

The meeting was attended by Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Senator Afnan Ullah Khan , Senator Dilawar Khan, and Senator Kamran Murtaza. The Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha,  Senior officials from the Ministry, The FBR and the State Bank of Pakistan along with other attached departments were also in attendance.