Govt Likely to Pass Mini-Budget as an Ordinance

Finance Parliamentary Secretary Zain Qureshi said that the government is seriously considering bringing amendments to the Finance Bill through an ordinance.

The government is now in a fix after the cabinet’s initial deliberation on the mini-budget yesterday where resistance to the SBP Amendment Bill came from a few ministers, leaving no option but to introduce an amendment in the Finance Bill through an ordinance.

This can be later taken to parliament as an ordinance stays valid for 90 days, Qureshi told ProPakistani.

The situation was strikingly different when the last meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday could not conclude with the approval of the bills and it was decided that Prime Minister Imran Khan would be consulted for it. The Cabinet Committee on Legislation took this matter up in yesterday’s meeting of the Cabinet. After due deliberations and discussions, and paucity of time, it was decided to quickly opt for an ordinance, Qureshi revealed.

The approval deadline for 12 January 2022 will be missed if the bill goes into parliament and gets stuck up. The option of a joint session of the parliament is also out of the question as a session was just conducted with many bills passed in one go, and today’s House Business Advisory Committee of the National Assembly will also deliberate again soon, he explained.

Official Sources in the FBR told ProPakistani that their work on the bill is almost complete and has been sent to the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, the Tax Laws (Fourth) Amendment Bill and SBP’s Autonomy Bill both will go together.

The government is now exploring all options once again to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the promulgation of a presidential ordinance for the withdrawal of GST exemptions to fetch Rs. 350 billion to bridge its resource gap on an annual basis because it might find it hard to pass such a big chunk of the money bill with the support of its political allies.

The IMF had initially sternly rejected the proposal for the promulgation of the Presidential Ordinance but the government seems to be left with no option but to engage the IMF again to convince it. The government wants the promulgation of the ordinance to be allowed until the upcoming budget and to finally withdraw GST exemptions as part of the next budget through the Finance Bill, 2022.

The Tax Laws (Fourth) Amendment Bill was also withdrawn because the government could not afford backlash against it when the CPI-based inflation was already standing at 11.53 percent for November 2021. The second situation surfaced after increasing difficulties emerged in the wake of a severe defeat in the local government elections in many parts of the PTI’s stronghold province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will also hold a series of meetings with his economic team to devise a new strategy to tackle these issues. One top official said that they were still making last moment efforts to meet the deadline of 12 January 2022, fulfilling all the prior actions placed by the IMF staff, and the holding of the IMF’s Executive Board meeting for the completion of the Sixth Review, and for the release of $1 billion tranches under the global lender’s $6 billion Extended Fund Facility.