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ISLAMABAD: The upper house of the parliament, Monday, adopted the report of its finance panel containing recommendations on the Finance Bill 2024— whereas opposition strongly protested over the proposed launch of “Azm-e-Istehkam” military operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its adjoining Pak-Afghan borderland.

Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue Saleem Mandviwalla presented the committee’s report in the Senate session presided over by Deputy Chairman Senate Syedaal Khan.

Briefing the house, Mandviwalla said, the committee finalised its recommendations in a short period of six days. He said the committee held meetings with the representatives of around 32 associations related to almost all the areas of the economic sector before finalising its report.

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Some of the major highlights of the Senate finance panel’s report include unanimous rejection by the committee of the federal government’s proposal to tax the salaried class, especially the salaried persons falling in the lower bracket, he said. The imposition of tax on infants’ milk and other milk proposed in the federal budget has also been unanimously rejected by the finance panel, Mandviwalla informed the house.

The committee has also rejected taxes on poultry feed, cheaper mobile phones, and stationery items including kids’ text books and pencils, he said.

The finance committee has recommended that incentives be given to charitable hospitals and not to those hospitals who are charging for providing healthcare services, the senator said. The committee, in its report, has supported a special package for Balochistan’s uplift, besides supporting to tighten restrictions on tax non-filers, according to Mandviwalla.

The committees’ report was then adopted by the house.

After Mandviwalla presented the report, the opposition senators protested against the proposed military offensive in the KP and its adjoining areas.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Shibli Faraz slammed the proposed launch of operation Azm-e-Istehkam.

Taking the floor, he said, Istehkam (stability) cannot be brought in the country under the present circumstances. “The stability of this country is linked to Imran Khan. You like it or not, only Imran can bring stability in this country,” he said.

“Stability comes with rule of law and constitution—when free and fair elections are held—when the one who wins the elections is the genuine winner and the one who loses is the genuine loser.”“

Faraz alleged that the country is faced with fascism. He lambasted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for failing to hold free and fair elections. “Our reserved seats have been stolen—in such a situation, how can you expect stability in this country?”

The opposition leader demanded that Imran Khan be released, cases against him be withdrawn and “stolen mandate” of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) be returned to it.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Parliamentary Leader in Senate Sherry Rehman condemned opposition’s protest against the proposed military operation.

“They don’t want stability in the country—they have resorted to this kind of conduct after May 9,” she said, adding that military operation against terrorism was necessary. Rehman also criticised the opposition in National Assembly for its refusal to sign a resolution in favour of the military operation.

Moved by Rehman, the house passed a resolution in condemnation of lynching incidents in Swat and Sargodha. The house was adjourned till today (Tuesday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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