Senate body convenes its session to finalise Finance Bill recommendations

ISLAMABAD   -   The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue convened its 8th consecutive session under the chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandiwalla at the Parliament to finalise recommendations on the Finance Bill, 2024.

During the session, representatives from Beaconhouse National University presented a proposal to eliminate a 25% tax rebate on salary income for teachers. They argued that retaining this rebate would lead to a 30% increase in tax liability for full-time faculty. They further noted that, cumulatively, these policies could result in a three to five-fold rise in tax payments for university faculty compared to other salaried professionals earning similar incomes. Senator Farooq Hamid Naek advocated for tax exemptions for teachers, citing concerns that taxes could deter growth in the field, emphasizing the high caliber of local educators. In contrast, Senator Anusha Rahman asserted that tax liabilities and exemptions should apply uniformly to all Pakistani citizens. Additionally, the Pakistan Retail Business Council (PRBC) raised concerns about taxation reforms, highlighting that compliant retailers face disproportionately higher effective tax rates compared to non-compliant counterparts. They recommended maintaining the sales tax rate for POS-connected retailers at 15%, citing losses in market share to the undocumented sector and store closures following recent tax increases. The committee queried officials about the unregistered market sector, expressing ongoing concerns despite efforts to resolve this issue. Officials reported that over 30,000 shops were registered in the last fiscal year.

The committee recommended regular dialogues with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to address retail sector concerns and proposed enhancing human resources within the sector for improved efficiency. They also suggested a comprehensive review of FBR operations and performance. Dr. Khurram Tariq, President of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, proposed measures to prevent duplicate deductions at source and alleviate liquidity challenges in the export industry. He recommended avoiding an additional 1% advance tax and transitioning all entities from the final tax regime to the normal tax regime without conditions. However, these proposals were not endorsed by the FBR policy members.

Senator Dr. Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur presented recommendations aimed at fostering economic growth, ensuring fiscal discipline, and promoting equitable financial policies in Pakistan. Her proposals, discussed extensively in the Senate Finance Committee, focused on revenue generation through the sale of Government Owned Properties (GORs) in major cities, facilitating overseas Pakistanis, withdrawing the petroleum levy increase, reducing indirect taxes, and expanding direct tax bases.

Senator Faisal Vawda raised discussions on increasing salaries for media reporters through the Finance Bill, 2024 And proposals for reduction in tax imposed on stationary items and news print was also made. The session was attended by Senators Mohsin Aziz, Munzoor Ahmed Kakar, Shazaib Durrani, Faisal Vawda, Anushay Rehman Ahmed Khan, Farooq Hamid Naek, and Senator Shibli Faraz, with Senator Zarqa Suharwardy attending as a special invitee. Representatives from relevant departments were also present.