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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, Saturday, finalised a set of recommendations for major changes in Finance Bill 2024 to encourage documentation and facilitate the general public.

The committee proposed that transactions exceeding Rs50,000, excluding utility bill payments, must be made via a crossed cheque, bank draft, pay order, or other crossed banking instrument, transferring the sales tax invoice amount from the buyer’s business bank account to the supplier.

The committee also revised the amendment related to the liability for tax payments or erroneous refunds, incorporating a default surcharge at the rate of KIBOR plus three percent per annum, whichever is higher.

Concluding a rigorous nine-day session on deliberations over the Money Bill 2024, the committee issued recommendations aimed at benefiting the general public. Key recommendations included mandating credit/ debit card transactions for purchases exceeding Rs30,000 to promote economic documentation, imposing uniform sales tax rates on solar industry components, withdrawing taxes on eight specified stationary items under the Finance Bill 2024, and requiring price labels on all consumer goods for informed purchasing decisions.

Additionally, recommendations were made to identify organisations exploiting tax exemptions under the guise of charitable status, provide additional allowances equal to 100 per cent of basic pay for disabled individuals (comprising less than two per cent of the workforce), and distinguish remote workers from freelancers for tax purposes.

Finance Bill 2024: Wealth Statement now in sharp focus

The committee also proposed exempting corporate debit card transactions from an additional five per cent tax to prevent double taxation and encourage foreign exchange earnings through ESFCAs.

Members of the committee expressed dissatisfaction with taxes on stationery and essential daily items, particularly objecting to taxes on milk for infants.

The committee criticised the Budget 2025, lamenting that it appeared more aligned with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s priorities than national interests, citing concerns that it disproportionately taxed the poor, needy, and vulnerable.

Specifically, the committee strongly opposed taxes on stationery items such as coloured pencils, pencils, and geometry sets, characterising Budget 2025 as excessively burdened with taxes—a slogan of 18 per cent GST on every item, further inflating the cost of living and diminishing public morale.

Anusha Rahman highlighted concerns over the taxation of medical equipment, emphasising the impact on healthcare costs, including endoscopy, oncology, urology, gynaecology, and disposable items. The committee also questioned the basis for granting tax exemptions to certain charitable hospitals, with the FBR clarifying that the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) holds the authority to grant such exemptions.

The committee further recommended subjecting donated goods to hospitals operated by non-profit institutions to similar customs duty conditions as those applying to goods with zero-rated customs duty.

Senator Anusha Rahman advocated against proposed tax structures for the telecom sector, particularly concerning cellular and satellite phones, suggesting differentiated tax rates based on import or supply values.

Senator Sherry Rehman’s recommendations focused on clarifying a proposed increase in export taxes and introducing initiatives to alleviate poverty and unemployment, particularly targeting the four per cent of Pakistanis living below the poverty line and the 6.3 per cent unemployment rate affecting over 4.5 million people. She emphasised the need for targeted programmes and essential services. Senator Zeeshan Khanzada proposed reducing the sales tax rate on local supplies in FATA and PATA to 16 per cent instead of the standard 18 per cent, and reducing the tax on imported supplies in these regions to three per cent until June 30, 2025, and six per cent from July 1, 2025, to June 30, 2026.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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Ch K A Nye Jun 23, 2024 06:09pm
ہاہاہاہاہاہاہاہا ہاہا It's amazing that this superfluous and toothless legislative body still think they have anything to do with governing the country.
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