The Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin, on Thursday, presented the Supplementary Finance Bill in the parliament amid strong protest from opposition benches.
The bill, dubbed the mini-budget by opposition parties, was originally scheduled to be presented in the parliament a day earlier, but the cabinet deferred its approval. The government had been pushing for the bill’s approval as it was a pre-requisite to resume the $6 billion External Fund Facility of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill 2021 was also presented in the House, which was referred to the relevant standing committee.
Speaking at the occasion, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) legislator, Khawaja Asif, claimed that the government had violated the constitution by presenting lapsed and expired ordinances.
The PML-N leader said that the control of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is being given to the IMF. Claiming that “Pakistan is being sold,” he urged the House not to compromise on Pakistan’s sovereignty.
The former defense minister said the entire nation was ashamed of what was happening in the parliament.
Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaking at the occasion, said that the opposition has the right to present its narrative, but the government has to apprise the public regarding facts.
Opposition members pointed toward an incomplete quorum as the foreign minister spoke. Speaker Asad Qaisar adjourned the session till Friday on the objection raised by the opposition.
Under the Finance Supplementary Bill, 2021, presented before the parliament, it is proposed that GST exemptions on large ships, imported bicycles, imported formula milk, live animals, imported meat, journals and periodicals, and raw material for pharmaceuticals be withdrawn.
For food items, the GST exemptions on items that are sold in big bakeries and sweet shops, in-flight kitchen items, and branded packaged poultry items, among others will be withdrawn.
There is a proposal to impose a 17 percent sales tax on branded dairy products, cars above engine capacity of 850cc, hybrid vehicles with engine capacity of more than 1800cc, re-meltable scrap, and gold and silvery jewelry, among others.
The bill also suggests the rationalization of sales tax on mobile phones above the value of $200. There is also a recommendation to increase Federal Excise Duty (FED) on local and imported vehicles with an engine capacity of more than 1000cc.