The government economic team's belated arrival enraged a Parliamentary Committee on Finance. The meeting was convened to get a briefing from Finance Ministry, State Bank of Pakistan as well as from Federal Board of Revenue on the state of Pakistan's economy.
The National Assembly's Standing Committee was convened on Wednesday to take on various agenda items, however, three of them were deferred till next meeting and one item could not be taken up because Finance Minister, Secretary Finance, Governor State Bank of Pakistan and FBR chairman failed to turn up on time.
The delayed arrival of the economic team by almost 30 minutes upset the members of the committee who remarked "this has become a regular phenomenon" and Nafeesa Shah of PPP even termed the absence of four senior members of government economic team "contempt to the committee."
Treasury member Danyial Aziz stated that the meeting of the committee be called off and expenditure should be sent to Finance Ministry for payment while Pervaiz Malik remarked that officials of the Finance Ministry should come to the committee because it is part of the parliament.
Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf Member National Assembly Murad Saeed walked out of the committee in protest against the attitude of government economic team. Chairman of the committee was also displeased. Finally 30 minutes after the committee's proceedings, Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood, Governor SBP Ashraf Mahmood Wathra and Chairman FBR Nisar Khan arrived and explained their late arrival. They stated that as an important meeting regarding financing for terrorism was being chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, they were unable to attend the committee meeting in a timely manner.
Nafeesa Shah also wanted the government to give a briefing on Rs 40 billion taxation measures which have been taken by the Finance Ministry to bridge the revenue shortfall for the first quarter of the current fiscal year. Secretary Finance stated that the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2014 has been sent to Ministry of Law and Justice as was directed by the committee. The committee decided that the said bill would be considered after 15 days. The committee considered The Banks (Nationalisation) (Amendment) Bill, 2015. The Secretary Finance informed the committee that subject proposed amendment was incorporated in the Finance bill in past but it was challenged in Supreme Court and the apex court directed that proposed amendment should be deleted from the money bill. The meeting also decided to consider the bill in days ahead.
Chairman FBR Nisar Khan briefed the committee on the differential of income tax rate between industrial and commercial importers. He said that the rate of tax for the commercial importers is 6% and for the industrial importer it is 5.5 % or 0% if the taxpayer is eligible for an exemption certificate under clause (72B) of Part IV of Second schedule to the income tax ordinance 2001.
He further said that commercial and industrial importers fall under different schemes of assessment of income tax. Meanwhile, commercial importers are assessed under presumptive tax regime. Hence, they are not required to pay any tax in addition to income tax deducted at the time of imports. While on the other hand, industrial importers have to pay tax on the basis of their income determined at the end of the year, which may range from 32% to 35% of income.