The National Assembly is in progress to vote on the Finance Supplementary Bill 2021. The session started with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair.
Meanwhile, a motion seeking to circulate the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021 for eliciting opinion on it from the lawmakers belonging to the opposition was rejected with a majority vote.
On the demand of the opposition, the Speaker ordered voting on the motion. A total of 150 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion, while 168 others opposed it.
A lawmaker from Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Shazia Marri, moved an amendment by citing Rule 124 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007 and demanded to circulate the bill related to the mini-budget.
She said that the public should be given the right to decide about the bill and it should be circulated for eliciting opinion.
The clause-by-clause passage of the Finance (Supplementary) Bill is in progress.
Speaking in the house, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said the purpose of the Finance (Supplementary) Bill was to document the economy. He announced that the government had decided to not withdraw tax exemptions on basic essential items such as milk, bread, laptop, and solar panels.
He asserted that the economy was growing, and it was expected to touch five percent growth during the current fiscal year. He pointed out that there was an unprecedented growth of 35 percent in revenue collection. He said the remittances and exports were also witnessing growth. There has been a bumper production of five crops because of our investment in the agriculture sector, he highlighted.
Shaukat Tarin said the government was focusing on inclusive and sustainable growth. “We are providing health cards to the households under which each family is entitled to medical treatment worth one million rupees annually.”
He said the government had launched Kamyab Pakistan Program under which interest-free loans were being given for agriculture and businesses in addition to loans for construction of houses.
Amendments to the Finance (Supplementary) Bill were also moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Kishwar Zahra. In his response to these amendments, the Finance Minister said most of the demands had been accommodated. To this, the MQM MNA thanked the Prime Minister and withdrew the amendments.
Responding to criticism from the opposition, Shaukat Tarin said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had called for imposing a value-added tax at the time when he was previously serving a the Finance Minister. He emphasized the need for documenting the economy, stating that people’s incomes were not being taxed because they did not fall under the tax net.
He informed the house that some taxes in the mini-budget had been removed. He said this was about “documentation not taxes”.
Chairman PPP Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari said that some lawmakers from Karachi had moved amendments and expressed their reservations over the mini-budget. He called upon them to reject the Finance Bill and work with the opposition to steer the country out of the economic situation.
Responding to the Chairman PPP, the Finance Minister said the opposition had claimed that the government was sacrificing the country’s economic sovereignty and national security. “But they went to the IMF approximately 13 times. Did they give up our economic sovereignty each time?” Tarin asked.
The approval of the Finance (Supplementary) Bill seeking to amend certain laws related to taxes and duties and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021, both tabled on December 30, is necessary to ensure that Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility gets cleared by IMF executive board.