The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, chaired by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, was held to consider and finalize the recommendations on the Finance Bill, 2023 containing the Annual Budget Statement laid in the House on 9th June.
Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi suggested that Freelancers should be given expemtion in retaining their revenue. Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar stated that Annual Budget allowed freelancers to retain 35 p.c. of their revenue. Besides, freelancers earning 2000 Dollars are exempted from sales tax and they could also procured duty free hardware, he added. He maintained that in the current fiscal year, a return of 2.5 Billion Dollar is expected from IT industry and the number would reach 4.5 Billion Dollar by next year and the expemtions have been given by keeping in view, the potential growth of IT industry.
Senator Taj Haider proposed that the tariff on Tennis, Badminton racket and other sports equipment should be expemted. Federal Minister for Revenue and Finance stated that fixation of tariff is prerogative of Commerce Ministry and the recommendation has been forwarded.
Senator Zeeshan Khanzada highlighted the issues confronted by the industry in LC's opening and inquired as to what steps have been taken by the ministry for the repression of illegal border trade. Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar reiterated that the Import restrictions were imposed to curb the massive inflows. He stated that the external debt of the country has been reached from 70 Billion Dollars to 100 Billion Dollars in PTI regime which was clearly an outcome of financial indiscipline. He remarked that expenditure bill should be made by keeping in view the external debt. Federal Minister for Revenue maintained that import restrictions would be uplifted by 30th June. As far as prevention of Illegal border trade is concerned, Senator Ishaq Dar stated that coordination between Intelligence agencies and FBR occupies vital importance and deliberations with concerned authorities has also been conducted in this regard.
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla inquired about the prospects of continuity of IMF plan. Senator Ishaq Dar termed the IMF 6 Billion Dollar guarantee demand illegal and stated that IMF is delaying plan to satisfy his political agenda. Although,the demands have been fulfilled by providing 3 Billion Dollar guarantee from UAE and Saudia Arabia and the remaining 3 Billion Dollar is being guaranteed by World Bank and ADB, he added. Senator Ishaq Dar categorically stated that Annual Budget has been prepared without IMF consultantion and IMF reservations on the current budget could be justified. He claimed that IT, Agriculture and SME sectors are 'Drivers of Growth' and exemptions given to these sectors were inevitable for the economic growth of the country, which is currently stands at 0.29%. Federal Minister reiterated that Pakistan is asset rich country and would survive without IMF support.
Moreover, Senator Kaudar Babar highlighted the economic potential of Gwadar and demanded that Gwadar should be declared as Special Economic District and exemptions should be given to locals on the same footing as it has been provided to Chinese. Senator Ishaq Dar stated that the ministry will deliberate on the matter and informed the standing committee afterwards.
Senator Irfan Siddiqui apprised that the employees of Radio Pakistan have not been paid from the past three months and proposed 5 p.c. radio fee in the annual vehicle registration fee to curb the financial crunch of Radio Pakistan. He also suggested that PTV Fee which is being charged to consumers in electricity bills should be enhanced from 35 to 50 rupees and the additional amount should be given to radio Pakistan. The Senate committee acknowledge the proposal and referred to Finance Ministry for consideration. However, Senator Saadia Abbasi rejected the proposal.
In addition to that, Senator Mian Abdul Qadir informed that final tax of 7.5 p.c. on construction companies has been changed into initial tax with an increase of 1 p c. Besides that, an assessment will also be conducted on payments,he added. Senator Mian Abdul Qadir suggested that the current 8.5 p.c. tax should be charged as final tax not as an initial tax. The Senate Committee directed the ministry to look into matter.
Furthermore,Representatives of Auto Spare Parts and FATA steel mills association have also submitted their proposals for reduction in sales taxes and custom duty. The Senate Committee forwarded the proposals to Finance Ministry for consideration.
Meeting was attended by Senator Saadia Abbasi,Senator Dilawar Khan, Senator Kamil Ali Agha,Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, Senator Taj Haider,Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi,Senator Irfan Siddiqui, Senator Kauda Babar, Senator Mian Abdul Qadir,Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Chairman FBR Asim Ahmad and other senior officers of relevant departments were also in attendance.