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ISLAMABAD: The opposition members in the National Assembly Monday criticised the government on proposing a draft of “State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2021” and vowed not to let the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) become a “subsidiary of International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

Terming the move as “selling off Pakistan’s sovereignty,” they demanded the government to immediately withdraw the proposed draft of the bill, saying “the sovereignty of the country cannot be put at stake for the sake of $500 million”.

The enraged opposition contended that a money bill could not be promulgated through a presidential ordinance (Tax Laws Second Amendment Ordinance, 2021) as it was a violation of the Constitution.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, Ahsan Iqbal, said, while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was selling off Pakistan’s sovereignty and vowed that the opposition would not let the SBP become a subsidiary of the IMF.

He said, “We have all taken an oath to uphold the sovereignty of the constitution.”

If the country is run according to the Constitution, all will be fine, but if the Constitution is disregarded, the country will not function properly, he said.

Ahsan Iqbal said that Article 73 of the Constitution says that imposing new taxes or changing present ones is done through a money bill, which cannot be enacted through a presidential ordinance.

“It is an unconstitutional act of the government to impose Rs700 billion taxes through an ordinance.”

He said, while quoting Article-73 (1) of the Constitution “Notwithstanding anything contained in Article 70, a Money Bill shall originate in the National Assembly.”

Responding to the points raised by the PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar has regretted that the previous governments ruined the tax system of the country by introducing tax measures through SROs.

He said that the present government had not taken any unconstitutional step vis-à-vis tax measures.

Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan clarified that the recent ordinance promulgated regarding tax measures was in accordance with the Constitution.

He said that the ordinance would be laid before the Lower House of the Parliament for legislation.

He said that the President could promulgate an ordinance under Article-89(1) of the Constitution.

He said while quoting the Article-89(1), “The President may, except when the National Assembly is in session, if satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action, make and promulgate an Ordinance, as the circumstances may require.”

He said the government wanted to take on board the opposition parties on the matter of legislation.

Babar Awan said a bill would be introduced by the government for judicial reforms.

He invited the opposition parties to give their input on the bill as well as on electoral reforms.

Responding to the adviser, the PML-N leader said that if any new taxation was to be introduced, it should be presented before the elected representatives in the National Assembly and the taxes imposed through ordinance should be withdrawn.

He said that the Article-89(1) explain the procedure of promulgating a presidential ordinance.

He said, “The approval of money bill can only be given by the National Assembly neither the President of Pakistan nor by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Mr Speaker you are custodian of this House, you must give ruling on it, otherwise we will approach the court.”

“If the money bill can be promulgated through a presidential ordinance then there is no need for discussion of the budget in the house for 30 days and approval of it from the National Assembly. Then, it should be approved through a presidential ordinance.”

The speaker National Assembly said that presidential ordinance could be promulgated under Article-89(1).

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, Raja Pervez Ashraf, said that it was a very serious matter.

“If this can be done through the ordinance, then every government implement budget through the ordinance.”

The PML-N leader and the former speaker National Assembly, Ayaz Sadiq, said that the speaker should not hurry to give a ruling on it.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said, “I will not do anything against the constitution and law. For this purpose, I invite the legal experts from the opposition members and treasury members, the Minister of Law and the Attorney General of Pakistan to discuss it.”

The speaker strongly condemned the killing of four youths in Jani Khel area of Bannu.

He said effective measures needed to be taken to curb such despicable incidents.

He said those involved in the Jani Khel incident must be brought to book.

Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan also laid before the house the Capital Development Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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