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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has unanimously recommended to the government to raise salaries of government employees from 10 to 20 percent in the budget for 2021-22.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue held its meeting under chairmanship of Senator Talha Mahmood for finalising recommendations on budget 2021-22, here at the Parliament House, on Monday.

Former president Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) Mian Anjum Nisar appeared before the Senate panel along with representatives of various industries, and said that the cost of doing business had gone much higher as the cost of electricity per unit in Pakistan stood at 16 cents, while it was available at the rate of seven cents in comparable economies, while mark-up rate stood at seven percent, and it was hovering around three percent in China and India.

He deplored that the government had signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) without even thinking and having any thought process, and cited example that under the FTA phase-1 Pakistan had granted incentive on 35 percent but in second phase, this incentive was increased to 70 percent trade regime.

“There is no systematic cascading formula implemented in tariff rationalisation process”.

Nisar severely criticised the NAB and stated that they were really fed up with the excessive attitude meted out by the NAB to the businessmen.

Everyone has taken businessmen very light, so no one was ready to take decisions, he added.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that there was a need to bring a paradigm shift in the audit system as through the existing system the blackmailing of taxpayer was done to extort money.

Business leader from the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industries Sohail Altaf also spoke before the meeting, and said that the FBR proposed 203-A and B should be abolished, and termed it as black law.

He also suggested that the tax should be reduced on 850cc on vehicles instead of cars only.

The Senate panel, unanimously, recommended that Prime Minister to honour the appeal of Pakistan Dairy Association (PDA) to restore zero-rating regime on milk and other 45 nutrition-based products as well as restoring of previous Sales Tax of 10 percent on value-added dairy products.

The representatives of flour mills, jewelers, soyabean seeds, poultry, and others warned that the prices of these items would go up as the FBR slapped standard GST at the rate of 17 percent.

The Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) stated 127 units out of 137 would be closed down, if the taxation measures taken by the government were not reversed.

The PSMA President, Iskandar Khan, said that the FBR placed sugar into third schedule and imposed 17 percent GST, so how the sweetener prices would be reduced in the market.

He said that the FBR reduced regulatory duty on the export of ethanol in the budget.

The FBR’s high-ups replied that the European Union raise issue of reducing RD on molasses because they granted duty-free access, so the government reduced RD in this budget.

The committee asked the FBR to furnish letter of the EU before the committee as 12 units were established to export it from the country.

The Senate panel also recommended to the government to raise FED plus Rs25 per pack on tier-1 cigarettes as it will generate additional Rs13 billion, while on tier-2 the FED plus Rs15 per pack should be increased to generate additional Rs50 billion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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