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Senate Panel Calls for Tax Exemption on Mobile Apps For Freelancers to Boost Remittances

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue advocated for the removal of all taxes from digital applications, highlighting the significant number of youth engaged in online freelancing and social apps, which also contribute to international remittances.

The committee members also proposed imposing taxes on phone usage after the user earns $500.

The inaugural session of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue was convened at the Parliament House to review and finalize the recommendations on the Finance Bill, 2024, which contains the Annual Budget Statement presented in the house on June 12th.

Commencing the session, the chairman welcomed the participants and received a comprehensive overview of the Money Bill 2024 from the committee members.

Senator Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan advocated for the removal of all taxes from digital applications, highlighting the significant number of youth engaged in online freelancing and social apps, which also contribute to international remittances. She proposed imposing taxes on phone usage after the user earns $500.

Senator Mohsin Aziz criticized the Finance Bill 2024, labeling it a “beggars budget,” yet committed to scrutinizing the bill clause by clause despite his overall rejection of it.

Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar expressed concerns over the taxation burden placed on the public by the Money Bill 2024.

The Federal Minister for Finance emphasized the need to expand the tax system, citing measures taken in the federal budget to address this issue. He stressed the importance of increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio, especially in light of potential IMF exit considerations. He also highlighted exemptions made for the salaried class and discussed efforts to digitize the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for a more transparent economy. Additionally, he outlined punitive measures for non-filers, including the requirement of an NTN number on passports for international travel.

During the session, the committee directed the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and the Ministry of Petroleum to elucidate the mechanism behind levy rate development in the amendment of Petroleum Products (Petroleum Levy).

Furthermore, the committee scrutinized amendments in the Customs Act, 1969, noting procedural irregularities, particularly in the creation of a director general through a finance bill.

The committee members have put forth proposals for amendments in ADRs (Alternative Dispute Resolutions) and have strongly advocated for the inclusion of penalties on the board for non-compliance with ADR notifications.

During the examination of Clause 3, Sub-Clause 16, Senator Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan expressed astonishment regarding the feasibility of issuing directives to the High Court for the establishment of a case management system. She emphasized concerns over the lack of penalties for non-implementation of the said clause, highlighting its potential detrimental effects on both the sanctity of the High Court and the Parliament.”

After the Recess, the Chairman OGRA briefed the committee on the proposed increase in Petrol levy in the Financial Budget 2024-25. The Committee recommended the OGRA find a practical way to provide incentives to deserving classes other than providing subsidies at petrol stations or introducing two rates for different classes of society.

Furthermore, the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue deliberated on the tariffs introduced in the Financial Budget 2024-25. Officials stated that the Government has increased and exempted various sectors from customs duties to enhance local production. Officials added that customs duties on aerosol products, bare or stuffed metal-clad printed circuit boards, and glass boards for manufacturing TV panels have been increased.

In addition to that, a customs duty of 10 percent has been fixed on the import of fresh and dry fruits, 11 percent on wheat, and 20 percent on cane sugar, beet sugar, white crystalline, and white crystalline beet sugar from Afghanistan. Moreover, the Government has exempted solar energy items from customs duties. Officials maintained that this step has been taken to boost the local manufacturing of solar panels and inverters. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla was of the opinion that relief should be given across the board. While the Government has provided exemptions to the solar industry, it has also increased customs duty on the import of EVs.

Additionally, the Government has exempted customs duty on goods imported into and exported from the Export Processing Zones established under the Export Processing Zone Authority Ordinance. The Senate Committee decided to seek input from the Board of Investment on the matter and deferred deliberations.

Senator Saleem Mandviwalla presided over the meeting, which was attended by the Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Muhammad Aurangzeb, along with committee members including Senator Sherry Rehman, Mohsin Aziz, Anusha Rahman, Ahmad Khan, Shazaib Durrani, Senator Farooq Hamid Naek,Fesal Vawda, and Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar.

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  • A stupid proposal (to impose tax after the user has reached US$ 500 mark). I wonder if these people are in their senses when they talk. I even suspect their education level.

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