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FBR chairman’s absence irks Senate committee

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Thursday expressed displeasure over the absence of Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Shabbar Zaidi and Secretary Law Division from its meeting and directed that the two attend the next session.

The meeting presided over by Senator Farooq H Naek asked representatives of the FBR to explain to Mr Zaidi that parliament was the country’s supreme institution and its standing committees had to be respected by all the law abiding.

While taking up agenda items of Finance Division with regard to a bill moved by Senator Sherry Rehman to curtail excessive expenditure of ministries and division, the committee also took strong exception of law secretary’s absence from the meeting and directed that he must ensure his presence in the next meeting and refused to listen to the draftsman.

Senator Rehman had moved a Private Members Bill titled the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 on May, 6 2019 that sought to curtail powers of the government and ministries to surpass expenditures approved by the parliament and then come up with supplementary grants. The committee agreed to Secretary Finance’s request for more time to review the proposed bill in-depth.

The committee chairman directed the Ministry of Law Ministry that senior officers should be present to respond to the queries of the parliamentarians.

Mr Naek further asserted that the reverence of the Parliament must be maintained by all the institutions.

The statement of objects and reasons of the private members bill stated that practice of authorising supplementary budgets or excess budgets without prior assent from the parliament was being used randomly, increasingly and frequently in Pakistan. It said the practice was against the well established principles of annual budget appropriation and procedure authorised by the parliament, adding uncertainty to economic, planning and oversight in the country.

The committee recommended that 50 per cent of profits earned by listed companies must be paid as dividend to investors and 50pc must go the companies. This would play an important role in reviving the Stock Exchange culture and confidence. The Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan opposed the Bill.

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