Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue
Islamabad : The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla here at the Parliament House to discuss various pending agenda points.
At the outset of the meeting the Senate Finance Committee took detailed briefing by the Chairman exchange Companies Association of Pakistan on the issue of foreign exchange dollar instability. The association discussed various recommendations and assured that if policies are revised and restrictions are given relaxation by keeping in view the current economic situation of the country, dollar stability can be achieved. He said that Pakistan is an economically stable country if focus is given on agriculture and natural resources. He said that it doesn’t require an IMF deal. In its recommendations stress was given on cease of afghan Transit and allowance by the state bank to deposit up to 10,000 dollar without verification. The exchange companies association claimed that they bought 4 billion dollar in the country last year and has the capacity to bring 1 million dollar every month.
The committee also inquired on the fate of deal with the IMF and their demands. Senator Mohsin Aziz lamented the delay in the deal even after having the country going through dire economic consequences, at the cost of inflation, joblessness, halting of trade and industry. The Minister of State for Finance and Revenue said that all the pre requisite actions have been taken, the only touch point is external financing which is being verified by the IMF from China,UAE and Saudia Arabia. she claimed that all the three neighbouring countries have extended full support in this regard. However, the verification is still pending and after verification the deal will be finalised.
Senator Farooq H. Naek inquired on the newly introduced petrol subsidy by the government on which the Minister of state replied that the petrol subsidy has not yet been put into practice and a plan is being worked out. Farooq H. Naek recommended to draft a regular program on food subsidy for the lower middle class. He emphasized that food inflation is at high and government should envisage plan to provide food subsidy instead of providing free food. Farooq H Naek retirated that such practices of free food will only encourage behaviours of beggary among masses.
Matter of the starred question asked by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed on the comparative details of Federal Excise Duty and Retail Price of locally manufactures cigarettes and imported cigarettes were disposed of. It was briefed that according to restriction No.03 of First Schedule to the Federal Excise Act, 2005 the minimum selling price of any brand shall not be less than 60 pc of Rs. 9,000.
The committee was briefed about the best probable solutions on Anti Money Laundering Act. DG Intelligence and Investigation appraised that a total of 125 cases registered from 2016 to till date. He added that intel was of such nature which demand monitoring. However, FBR has been discharging cases against individuals who have complied with the initial proceedings. It was also briefed that the directors have been instructed to review all 125 pending cases wherein FIRs have been filed and which are under investigation. They have also been instructed to differentiate whether the said cases involve only tax evasion or tax evasion coupled with Money Laundering. The matter was disposed of with the direction that tax evasion should not be associated with money laundering and reasonable amounts should be fixed for threshold of money laundering.
While discussing the state bank report on bank scams, alleging therein extra US dollars rates being charged from customers for the opening of LC’s. Officials of SBP informed the committee that investigation has been concluded and SBP is in deliberations with Finance Division to determine whether the action should be on fiscal end or regulatory. However, he assured the committee that action will be taken soon. Chairman Committee directed the SBP to submit report on the concerned matter in the next two weeks.Moreover, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla inquired about the current situation of LC’s being opened by Banks and claimed that plenty of complaints have been received in which Banks have refused to make payments even after the opening of LC’s. Officials of SBP apprised the committee that SBP is monitoring the situation and banks are being pushed to open LC’s for all the necessary items.
On the matter of fake pensioners and further strategy to resolve the issue briefing was taken by the ministry of finance. The director General I & I –I R briefed the committee that for transparency and to facilitate pensioners, federal Government has introduced Direct Credit System scheme (DCS) for resolving the issue of fake pensioners. He said that in this system amount of pension of pensioner is deposited directly in his/her bank account, opened in any schedules bank, including National Saving Centers for this purpose. The DG I & I briefed the committee that total number of Pensioners is 3.328 million. Out of which 71pc is on Direct Credit System while remaining 29 pc is being operated manually. He said similarly 40 pc of military accounts are on DCS and 60 percent are non DCS. He said that as per this system, if a pensioner drawing pension fails to submit a life certificate or fails to undergo biometric verification during the months of March and October or a pensioner does not draw pension for consecutive six month, the account shall become dormant. The chairman committee deferred the matter for further report and inquiry.
Briefing by the Competitive Commission of Pakistan on its working, Budget, expenses, organizational structure and their performance was also taken up. It was briefed that the role of competition commission of Pakistan CCP is to foster competition in all spheres of economic activity and to protect consumers from anti-competitive practices. It was also briefed that the budgeted expenditure including budget for 4 regional offices is Rs.1,660,702,927 and total budgeted income is Rs.540,000,000 with a deficit of Rs.1120,702,927. The Federal Government has also allocated Rs. 100 million as grant to CCP. However the officials of the competitive commission lamented the slow processing of the cases related to economic concerns and urged support and cooperation in this regard, the officials lamented that the chief justices give stay orders on all such matters and the cases remain pending.
Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Kamil Ali Agha and Senator Mohsin Aziz attended the meeting. Chairman FBR, Addl. Finance Secretary Finance Division Director General I& I- IR , Member IR Operation and official from other attached departments were also in attendance.