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Sindh Finance Bill 2013-14 passed unanimously

The Sindh Assembly on Saturday unanimously passed the provincial budget exceeding Rs 658.624 billion for the fiscal year 2013-14, despite opposition parties' rejection of the financial plan. All opposition parties, including MQM, PML-F, PML-N and PTI, rejected the Sindh Finance Bill 2013-14 and staged a walkout in protest. But treasury members said that opposition to the bill was just for "the sake of opposition".

Syed Sardar Ahmed opposed the imposition of property tax and said that it was a discriminatory move, adding that its rate was too high at 25 percent. "Even 20 percent is too high," he said. He complained that the government had not provided members of the opposition parties with copies of the finance bill before the voting. Before walking out of the house, he said that the opposition was against all taxes.

Syed Hafeezuddin of PTI said: "We oppose the attitude [of the treasury members] on the issue." Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who tabled the finance bill in the assembly, did not accept the opposition's rejection. During the debate, he pointed out that the opposition had not tried to mould the bill in accordance with their demands, adding that the opposition members had not submitted any amendment to the bill. He also pointed that the opposition had ample time to submit their amendments.

According to him, the budget "will not affect the poor", instead it will act as a catalyst for development. Referring to the property tax, he said the provincial government collected the levy on behalf of KMC. He said this was not a provincial tax. After going through the bill clause by clause, the chief minister completed his reading and waited for the result of the voting. All those who attended the session passed the bill unanimously.

The Speaker of the Sindh Assembly declared that the bill had been unanimously passed into law after the opposition avoided participating in the legislation. After the budget was approved, Syed Qaim Ali Shah took the floor again and termed the opposition walkout a sad move. He, however, thanked lawmakers on the opposition and treasury benches for taking part in the entire process.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013


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