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Pakistan

Finance ministry looks to pacify concerns over mini-budget, SBP bill

  • Muzzammil Aslam says Finance (Supplementary) Bill is a 'reform budget' that would capture the value-chain
Published January 13, 2022

Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Muzzammil Aslam looked to pacify concerns regarding the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021, calling it a "reform budget that would capture the value-chain".

The National Assembly is expected to vote on the controversial State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 as well as the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 today (Thursday), known commonly as the 'mini-budget'.

Business Recorder earlier reported that voting on both bills is likely on Thursday and then the SBP bill would be tabled in the upper house of Parliament as its approval would be required from both the Houses, unlike the money bill which requires approval only from the National Assembly to become law.

The two bills have generated intense debate in recent weeks with the opposition calling the mini-budget a massive burden on the common citizenry, while criticising the SBP amendments that are aimed at appeasing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and curtailing powers of the state.

However, addressing a press conference on Thursday ahead of the vote, Aslam said that the upcoming (mini-budget) should be called a reform budget as the common man would bear minimal burden of taxes.

"It is a historic day for Pakistan," said Aslam. "The purpose is to document the economy."

The spokesperson added that Pakistan's retail market worth Rs18 trillion does not pay its fair share of taxes. “The purpose of this ‘reformed budget’ is to capture the value chain, people involved in trading should come under the tax net, to increase the penetration of taxpayers.

"We want to impose taxes on high-income persons and transfer its effects to the masses, as well as to simplify the tax system."

‘Mini-budget’ to trigger ‘tsunami’ of taxes: Opposition

Addressing concerns raised by the opposition regarding the cut of Rs200 billion in development expenditure, Aslam said, “Our tax revenue collection target was earlier Rs5,800 billion, which has been raised to Rs6,100 billion. 57.5% of this amount will be transferred to the provinces, which will be used for development expenditure,” he said.

Talking about SBP autonomy, Aslam said that the government would appoint eight Executive Board of Directors (BoD) of the central bank.

“Furthermore, the SBP governor and deputy governors will be accountable and the central bank will be 100% owned by the government of Pakistan,” added Aslam.

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