The Upper House of Parliament on Friday adopted a motion moved by finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh that "the Senate may make recommendations to the National Assembly on the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill‚ 2012‚ under Article 73 of the Constitution."
Shaikh said the tax amnesty scheme is aimed at bringing the richest of the rich into tax net by giving them incentives. "There are only 800,000 people who pay tax while 290,0000 richest people, who spend lavishly but pay no taxes, so this bill will help bound people who evade taxes...this is a one year incentive, then they will give tax every year," he added.
He said that 290,0000 richest people, who do not pay a single penny as tax, will start paying taxes every year, which will help increase tax to GDP ratio. The tax to GDP ratio, he added, has increased by Rs 350 billion due to taxation measures. "The honest taxpayers should be respected while those who don't pay tax should fulfil their responsibility...the incentives are being given for the first one year, afterwards they will not be able to escape the law," he added.
The minister said it will help enhance the revenue of the government which can be spent on the welfare of the people. The law will also end harassment of the taxpayers by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), he added. Shaikh called upon the opposition to join hands with government to bring the rich people into the documented tax regime. "Let's suppose you [PML-N] win next general elections [and] Ishaq Dar occupies the slot of finance minister, this bill will help him in tax collection," he said.
The Awami National Party, which is a government ally, staged walkout in protest against the bill, saying they do not want to be part of the proceedings, which is meant for protecting the looters and plunderers. However, PML-N and MQM, did not vote in favour of the bill, terming it as a license of amnesty to thieves and corrupts, who could easily whiten their black money by availing the incentives.
Senator Ishaq Dar of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the bill would discourage the honest taxpayers. He said that the court would strike down the bill, if it was challenged. He added that calling it a money bill will be unjust as it does fall in that category.
Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM strongly opposed the bill, saying it gives protection to landlords, thieves and corrupts to get away with the money. The FBR is the most corrupt department and the bill will further strengthen its powers. "It [bill] leaves nothing with the government. All the powers will be with the FBR, the most corrupt department [and] in other words it will be like facilitating the corrupt," he added.
CELL PHONE CLOSURE Interior Minister Rehman Malik informed Senate that sale of illegal SIMs should be ended as it benefits the terrorist, who want to destabilise Pakistan through their nefarious motives. "The cellular phones have become a source of communication for the terrorists and all improvised bombings are being carried out through mobile phones," he pointed out.
"Cell phones are being used to detonate bombs...when we block cellular service, the business community comes to me, saying they lose business but I'm sorry I can not help you because I lose my people," he added. Replying to points raised by different members regarding suspension of mobile phones services in different cities‚ he said mobile phone had become a source of terror as it was being used for detonating bombs.
He said when the mobile services were suspended on the occasion of Ashura and Chehlum there was not a single incident of improvised device explosion. He said occasionally the step was being taken to maintain law and order in the country and save precious lives.
To another point raised by Senator Idrees Safi‚ the minister said 90 percent Afghanis were residing in slums without any valid visa. He said despite warnings they were not ready to vacate the places. The facilitators of crimes are mostly found in slums, who must not be given free hand to destabilise the country on dictation of their foreign masters, he added.