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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance was informed that all the prior conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been met for the revival of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and the Fund Executive Board would meet on August 25 to take up Staff Level Agreement.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Finance, Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance presided over by Senator Saleem Mandviwala on Thursday.

She said that steps are being taken to ensure stalled inflows from the World Bank and $2.3 billion has been rolled over by China. She said the EFF revival was not possible if the IMF conditions were not accepted and expressed the hope that the disbursement of tranche by the Fund and other inflows would strengthen the rupee against the US dollar.

She said that the inflation rate in US is at a 28-year high and the extraordinary rise in dollar is mainly because of the increase in the US discount rate.

The minister added that in a short span of time major currencies around the globe have depreciated against the dollar.

She said that the government wanted to increase the remittances and to reduce the trade deficit by bringing down imports and increasing exports and stated that the country was not in danger of default and there is no Sri Lanka-like situation.

Govt in talks with IMF on daily basis: Aisha

However, the senators expressed concern over the depreciation of the rupee and stated that every day the rupee was falling against the dollar by around Rs5, whereas, the opening of LCs has become very difficult and auto, pharmaceutical, and other sectors are closing their production units. The prices of essential commodities are increasing on a daily basis making the life of the poor very hard. However, Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar raised the matter of discrimination facing politicians in the opening of bank accounts.

The committee chairman commented that six months ago the matter was raised in committee but no satisfactory response was provided. He further added that the committee is deliberating to issue an advertisement in the newspaper that the politician facing any sort of difficulty in opening a bank account can approach this forum.

The State Minister for Finance maintained that any sort of discrimination against politicians cannot be tolerated and the ministry will inform the committee about the progress in this regard in the next 15 days.

However, the committee unanimously passed the “Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, 2022” moved by Senator Danesh Kumar.

The bill seeks to insert the word “Senate” after the word “National Assembly” in sections 34 and 35 of the Act. Senator Danesh Kumar was of opinion that Parliament comprises both “The National Assembly and the Senate” and any report on budget development and on government performance shall be presented before the Senate, as well.

The committee deferred the “Limited Liability Partnership Amendment Bill, 2022” till the next meeting for further deliberations.

Senator Mohsin Aziz was of the view that the income tax collected from any industry or organisation, headquartered in Karachi but operating throughout the country would not be considered as a provincial matter in terms of taxation, revenue and customs duties.

Pasha apprised the committee that this problem is called a “headquarter-problem” and the FBR as tax collector of the country currently does not have any mechanism to differentiate between these two. The issue regarding year-wise income tax collected from the industrial sector in Sindh province and the year-wise duty collected on imports of goods through Karachi Port during the last three years, respectively, raised by Senator Mohsin Aziz in the House.

Additionally, on the issue of placement of jaggery and refined sugar in the same category in the Customs list raised by Senator Fida Muhammad, Chairman FBR, Asim Ahmad informed the committee that the Ministry of Commerce determines the import and export policy of the country and the matter does not come under the ambit of the FBR.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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