Senate body concerned over current economic situation of country

ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Thursday expressed concerns over the current economic situation of the country, especially unprecedented rise of dollar value against the local currency.

The committee, which was held with Senator Saleem Mandviwalla in chair, has deliberated over the current economic condition of the country. Senators have raised their concerns over the increase in dollar value against the rupee.

Senator Mohsin Aziz was of opinion that owing to unprecedented rise of dollar value, pharmaceutical companies are not able to provide basic medicines to the public. State Minister for Finance, Aisha Ghaus Pasha apprised the committee that inflation rate in United States is at 28-year high and the extraordinary rise in dollar is mainly because of increase in US discount rate. She stated that in short span of time major currencies around the globe have depreciated against the dollar. Committee chairman questioned that “How will the dollar be stabilized?” Aisha Ghaus Pasha informed that international factors are beyond our control and as far as local factors are concerned, we are aiming to increase remittances which currently stand at 3.12 billion USD (April 2022) and to reduce the import-export deficit. Moreover, on the matter of IMF bailout, State Minister for Finance commented that the staff level agreement has been finalized and the current IMF bailout will be materialized by 25th of August 2022.

However, on the speculations regarding the country heading towards default, Aisha Ghaus Pasha categorically stated that “We are not anywhere near the situation of Sri Lanka”. Senator Anwar ul Haq Kakar raised the matter of discrimination facing by politicians in opening of bank accounts. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla commented that six months ago the matter was raised in committee but no substantial answer has been provided. He further added that committee is deliberating upon an idea to issuing an advertisement in the newspaper that any politician facing any sort of difficulty in opening a bank account can approach this forum with his/her grievances. State Minister for Finance maintained that any sort of discrimination against politicians cannot be tolerated and the ministry will inform the committee about the progress of matter in the next fifteen days.

Meanwhile, the committee unanimously passed the “Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, 2022” moved by Senator Danesh Kumar. The bill seeks to insert the word “Senate” after the word” National Assembly” in section 34&35 of the Act. Senator Danesh Kumar was of opinion that Parliament comprises both “The National Assembly and the Senate” and any report on budget development and on government performance shall be presented before the Senate as well. Senator Mohsin Aziz was of view that income tax collected from any industry or organisation, headquartered in Karachi but operates throughout the country shall not be considered as a provincial matter in terms of taxation, revenue and custom duties. Aisha Ghaus Pasha apprised the committee that this problem is called “headquarter problem” and FBR as tax collector of the country currently does not have any mechanism to differentiate between these two.

Senators raise their concerns over increase in dollar value against rupee

Additionally, the issue of placement of jaggery and refined sugar in same category in Customs list was raised by Senator Fida Muhammad. Chairman FBR, Asim Ahmad informed the committee that Ministry of Commerce determines the import and export policy of the country and the matter does not come under the ambit of FBR. However, Aisha Ghaus Pasha informed the committee that almost 50 pc of the budget recommendations of the Standing Committee have been accepted and implemented. Senator Muhammad Shafiq Tareen told the committee that total strength of employees are working in State Bank of Pakistan is 1183 and among them only 42 belong to Balochistan which is less than the allocated quota of 6 p.c.. State Minister for Finance apprised the committee that allocated quota for Balochistan will be filled in future recruitment processes.

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