ISLAMABAD    -   The Senate on Thursday unanimously adopted various recommendations to the National Assembly for incorporation in the Finance Bill 2022.

These recommendations would be sent to the National Assembly that will finally decide whether to be incorporated in the budget for the next fiscal year or not, as the upper house of the parliament has no role over money bill.

Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Finance, and Revenue Senator Saleem Mandviwalla presented his report containing the recommendations on the The house recommended to the National Assembly to increase the salary of Finance Bill 2022 that was adopted by the house.

Government employees in pay scale 1 to 16 than those in higher grades. The house recommended immediate withdrawal of 17pc sales tax on purchase of pharmaceutical raw material. The Senate also recommended to the NA that import of aircrafts and its parts should be exempted from sales tax as neither this sales tax is recoverable nor adjustable.

The house recommended that credits be allowed to businesses and taxpayers engaged in the IT Sector.

The house recommended to the NA that the government should ensure the reduction of sugar content in sodas, juices, energy drinks and iced teas for better human health.

Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Ayesha Ghaus Pasha winding up the budget debate in the house said that the government has agreed to adopt 10 recommendations of the Senate out of total 29 related to income tax, and nine recommendations out of total 21 about sales tax. She said that the recommendations about customs have also been accepted while the general recommendations of the house on Finance Bill would also be taken into consideration  At the same time, the minister of state grilled opposition PTI alleging that it was hoodwinking the people over the IMF deal with the government. She said then PTI government had given a commitment to the international lender for increase in fuel prices and tax reforms, stressing that a responsible state has to honour commitments made with the international community.

Ayesha Pasha informed the house that the present government was struggling hard to stabilise the economy despite the gaps left by the last PTI government. She said that the previous government had agreed with the IMF on the reforms of income tax and to increase the prices of fuel and power. “Despite tough IMF programme, our philosophy is to give relief to the masses.”

 She said that subsidies have been given in five essential commodities while Rs 2000 per month has been announced to those families having less than Rs 40,000 monthly income. “Our philosophy is based on redistribution,” she said, adding that they wanted to give relief packages to the poor by taxing the rich. She also said that the government had brought down its expenditures despite taking additional tax measures. “Please come and sit with us and don’t play politics,” she concluded.

Taking part in the budget debate, former prime minister and PPP Senator Yousaf Raza Gillani said that the government was taking tough decisions on the economy, which would bring down the inflation and decrease the exchange rate of dollar against rupee. “We are taking unpopular decisions for the future of the country,” he said. He said that he had advised chairman PTI Imran Khan in 2013 that they should not come into power at that time.

He added that then PTI government changed three federal ministers which was not good news for the country and such decisions plunged the country into bad economic conditions.

Gillani came hard on the PTI government for giving relief packages despite having signed an agreement with IMF and alleged it was done with mala fide intention, foreseeing their ouster from power.

 He claimed that the ruling coalition inherited the economy in a very bad shape. “We had two options before us: either to leave everything to be done by a government after elections or taking tough decisions, as an interim set-up could not take major policy decisions,” he said . He added that they opted for the hard way.

Former finance minister and PTI Senator Shaukat Tarin in his speech again questioned how the government would achieve the revenue collection targets set in the budget. He labeled these targets as unrealistic.

On a point of public importance, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani proposed that the house should make it part of the budgetary recommendations that before the next budget, new NFC should be finalized by the govt.