ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Thursday extended three ordinances to further 120 days amid a heated debate and protest from the Opposition parties.
Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid moved the resolutions to extend the three ordinances, including Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 (V11 of 2013), Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 (V111 of 2013) and Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, 2013 (1X of 2013).
Taking part in the debate in the lower house of the Parliament, the Opposition parties – PPP, QWP, PTI, JI, MQM and JUI-F as well as independent Jamshed Ahmed Dasti opposed the resolutions.
The ordinances were promulgated by President Mamnoon Hussain in October last. Under the Constitution, the government was required to get them passed in the form of bills from the Parliament within 120 days. The government decided to defer the bills in the National Assembly on Monday because of strong protest from the Opposition. The protest mainly came from the PTI and the ruling coalition partner JUI-F which described the ordinances as draconian.
Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah of the PPP asked the government to defer the draft for a day or two to forge a consensus.
The opposition legislators said the government, instead of extending ordinances, should go for consensus legislation. They said extension of the ordinance was an insult of the assembly. Mehmood Khan Achakzai said the country was passing through a critical juncture and innocent people were being killed.
The National Assembly also adopted four motions unanimously. The motions were moved by Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk. The first motion was regarding the delay in the presentation of the report of the standing committee on the bill to amend the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973, [The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2013]. The second motion pertained to the delay in the presentation of the report of the standing committee on the bill to amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan [The Constitution (Twenty-third Amendment), Bill, 2013]. The third motion was about delay in the presentation of the report of the standing committee on the bill to repeal the Federal Court Act, 1937 [The Federal Court (Repeal) Bill, 2013]. The fourth motion related to the delay in the presentation of the report of the standing committee on the bill to amend the National Judicial (Policymaking) Committee Ordinance, 2002 [The National Judicial (Policymaking) Committee (Amendment) Bill, 2013].
Answering a query, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal told the National Assembly that the government had introduced several measures to reduce fiscal deficit.
During question hour, the parliamentary secretary said the reforms and other measures being taken by the government were helping to reduce the fiscal deficit.
He said, according to 7th NFC Award, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was entitled to receive 14.62 percent of the provincial share in divisible pool taxes and one percent of net proceeds of divisible pool taxes to meet expenses on the war on terror. In addition, the amount on account of royalty on crude oil and gas development surcharge is payable on actual collection basis, he said and added the province, during the last two years, had received Rs 368.27 billion on account of divisible pool, royalty on crude oil and gas development surcharge.
Rana Muhammad Afzal said notices requiring filing of returns had so far been issued to 63,801 potential taxpayers during the current financial year. Of these 30,355 notices were issued during the first quarter of the financial year and 30,891 during the second quarter.
In response to these notices, more than 3,000 persons have registered voluntarily and more than 3,500 persons have filed returns.
The secretary said the government aims at bringing 100,000 new taxpayers into the net during the current financial year and additional 100,000 in each of the following two years.
He said the total reserves held by the country stand at 8.31 billion dollars, adding 3.46 billion dollars are held by State Bank of Pakistan and 4.84 billion dollars by commercial banks.
The government has taken measures to improve overall balance of payments position of the country, building foreign exchange reserves, stabilising foreign exchange markets and stemming speculative tendencies in the market.
He informed the House that the government had joined an IMF programme to bring stability and comfort to international and domestic investors.
The IMF programme had subsided pressures arising due to a large debt repayment and had enhanced the possibility of receiving large inflows from other multilateral and bilateral resources, he claimed.
He said the government was making efforts to realise official inflows from different sources, including CSF money, 3G licence fees, receipts of Euro bonds and inflows from multilateral and bilateral inflows as planned in the budget.
These inflows would help improve the reserves position of the country and address the negative sentiments of the market, he further claimed. He said Privatisation Commission had been constituted on merit, adding Pakistan Steel Mills would be privatised after its restructuring.