Saturday, 10 January 2015

Senate body suggests govt to withdraw 5pc GST

The senate standing committee on finance and economic affairs in its meeting has recommended the government to take back its decision of imposing 5 per cent GST on petroleum products.
It also decided to ask the finance minister and secretary to give a detailed briefing to the committee regarding discrepancies in the OGRA Ordinance.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Nasreen Jalil on Friday at the Parliament House on Friday. The chairperson expressed her concerns over the un-proportionate decrease in petroleum products when compared with the international market. She said the imposition of 5 per cent additional GST had worried the public and the parliament was also against any such decision.  However, Senator Rafiq Rajwana disagreed on this and said the matter after being discussed in the Upper House was now with the senate chairman and the committee should wait to give its recommendations till the chairman gives his ruling. Senator Osman Saifullah proposed to the senators that individual senators should go to courts against 5 per cent increase as it was a right as citizens of Pakistan.
The committee decided that its members will participate in the meetings of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) which are held to determine prices on monthly basis. OGRA Chairman Saeed Ahmed expressed his willingness to this proposal.
The committee expressed strong anguish over the absence of quorum of sitting members in the Authority. Senator Fateh Muhammad Hasani said that the country had suffered a lot because of some unlawful actions and decisions of OGRA. To this, the chairman stated that the Authority had not taken any unconstitutional or unlawful decision. The senators expressed dissatisfaction over this statement and Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that the Authority did not have enough sitting members to decide any matter. Saeed Ahmed clarifying his position said that the Authority had not taken any decision after being restrained by the Lahore High Court in a ruling.
Senator Haji Adeel said the government should have decreased fuel surcharge keeping in view the decrease in petroleum prices. He further said if the economy had suffered due to lowered prices, instead of imposing GST, the government should lower its travel expenses.
Discussing the issues of tax file returns, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Tariq Bajwa said that in 2013 the total tax returns filed were 710,000 and in 2014 they were 771,000. He hoped that this year the returns would reach almost 900,000. Senator Syeda Sughra Hussain Imam questioned the government’s move to impose tax without taking Parliament into confidence. Replying to this, Tariq Bajwa said that according to the constitution, the government could not impose taxes just by itself but it could increase the tax rates.
Taxes on agriculture and the problems encountered in this were also discussed in the meeting. Senator Syeda Sughra Imam proposed to the committee to recommend to the government to start issuing provincial tax numbers in addition to the national tax numbers. The committee decided to suggest to the inter-provincial coordination committee to call a meeting of the provincial revenue departments to address the issue.
The committee members appreciated the efforts of FBR and chairman FBR for their efforts and giving the committee useful information which didn’t even come into FBR’s domain.
During the meeting, Additional Secretary Finance Shujaat Ali could not give any satisfactory answer to the questions posed by Senator Syeda Sughra Hussain Imam and Senator Osman Saifullah Khan. The committee members expressed fury over the absence of secretary finance.
The meeting was attended among others by Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Senator Kalsoom Parveen, Senator Fateh Muhammad Muhammad Hasni, Senator Malik Muhammad Rajwana, Chairman OGRA Seed Ahmed, Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa and Additional Secretary Senate Shujaat Ali.

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