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Pakistan

NA session adjourned without mini-budget approval

  • Session now scheduled to take place on Monday at 5pm
Published February 17, 2023

A session of the National Assembly (NA) aimed at discussing the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2023, or mini-budget, was adjourned on Friday without a vote on amendments in tax laws needed to resume the crucial International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

“NA session has been adjourned to meet again on Monday, February 20, 2023 at 5:00 pm,” said the official handle of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

During the brief session on Friday, lawmakers lambasted the government for imposing a massive burden on common man by increasing taxes.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar introduced on Wednesday the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2023, announcing various amendments that feature taxation measures of Rs170 billion (approximately $640 million), as Islamabad moves to convince the IMF to revive its bailout programme.

Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2023: Dar unveils taxation measures as Pakistan looks to appease IMF

Dar said the taxation measures will help reduce the budget deficit, adding that cabinet members would also adopt an austerity approach to help the country at this time of economic distress.

Pakistan has been implementing various prior conditions agreed with the Washington-based lender in hope of reviving the stalled bailout programme at a time when its foreign exchange reserves have depleted to critical levels, covering less than a month of imports.

Through the amendments, federal excise duty was raised on cement, cigarette, sugary drinks and air travel.

Moreover, sales tax has been raised from 17% to 18% on general items and 25% on luxury goods.

Approval of the tax amendments in NA is key requirement to unlock the next tranche of IMF loan.

On Tuesday, Dar during his meeting with President Dr Arif Alvi apprised the premier that the government wants to raise additional revenue through taxes by promulgating an ordinance.

However, President Alvi advised that it would be more appropriate to take the parliament into confidence on this subject and that a session be called immediately so that the bill is enacted without delay.

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