ISLAMABAD-Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue has expressed displeasure over the absence of Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar from the meeting, who was supposed to discuss various important issues.
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, presided over a meeting held here at Parliament House on Wednesday. Caretaker Finance Minister, designated to brief the committee on economic situation and challenges faced by Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K), was notably absent, sparking committee displeasure.
During extensive discussions, the committee delved into the pressing issues faced by the people of AJ&K, with insights provided by the AJ&K Prime Minister. In response, the Committee established a sub-committee, led by Senator Saadia Abbasi, to resolve the issues pertaining to hydel, budgetary and other financial topics. A unanimous commitment to prioritize and address AJ&K’s issues was reiterated by the Committee. Senator Mandviwalla emphasized, “We stand in with Kashmir and will exert every effort to address the challenges faced by AJ&K.”
Additionally, the private member Bill, “ the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2023”, moved by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad was disposed of while discussion regarding the non-payment of compensation to the affectees of Mohmand dam was deferred due to the absence of the mover, Senator Hilal Ur Rehman.
A matter related to the non-payment of a subsidy amounting to Rs 29 lacs was brought forward by the co-owner of Al Madina Floor Mills. The Committee discussed this issue and recommended that the Finance Ministry escalate the matter to the State Bank of Pakistan, providing an update to the committee within 15 days.
Briefings on the “Deposit Protection Mechanism” and a “Rs. 5 billion fraud in Bank Al-Habib Faisalabad” were regrettably deferred due to the governor’s prior engagements. Furthermore, the Committee extensively discussed the status of the SME bank. Expressing dissatisfaction over the decision to wind down the SME bank, the Committee urged the Finance Secretary to encourage SME lending and explore alternatives. They stressed the importance of a collaborative effort among stakeholders to pinpoint the causes of the bank’s downfall and work towards its revival. The Secretary Ministry of Finance stated that he would come up with the observation of the committee after consulting SBP and other concerns.
The meeting also featured a briefing by the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and his team, shedding light on reports of massive money laundering by solar panel importers. Chairman FBR informed that as a result of the audit, two fIRs have recently been lodged against M/S Bright Star Business Solution (Pvt) Ltd and M/S Moonlight Trader (SMC) Pvt Ltd as these two importers were involved in over-invoicing, obstruction of audit, and using illicit funds for imports in violation of Customs Act, 1969. The Committee sought details of all the banks involved and vowed to pursue the matter with the State Bank of Pakistan and all relevant authorities for swift resolution.