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Senate seeks abolishment of amnesty scheme, minimum wage at Rs30,000

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday adopted all of the 61 recommendations of its standing committee on finance and revenue, asking the National Assembly to delete the much-talked Asset Declaration Scheme, the Stamp Act of 1899 and West Pakistan Motor Vehicles Taxation Act 1958 from the Finance Bill 2019-20.

The upper house praised the committee headed by Dr Farooq H. Naek for completing its task within a tight schedule and making comprehensive recommendations.

The committee had specifically suggested deleting from the finance bill a new clause 6A in Section 175 of the Income Tax Ordinance that empowered tax commissioners to raid any premises over information of undeclared gold, bearer security or foreign currency and confiscate them.

In addition, the Senate also adopted the recommendation that sought “25 business class open return air tickets from the airport to his nearest constituency to Islamabad, on quarterly basis” in addition to vouchers for the same purpose to members of the parliament.

The Senate also recommended reduction in imprisonment from 10 to five years and capping the maximum penalty at Rs100,000 from the money laundering act and the deletion of clause seeking forfeiture of property involved in money laundering or property of corresponding value from the Anti Money Laundering Act 2010.

It also proposed to the National Assembly that the government should ensure to: abolish Riba at the earliest, replace at least 30 per cent of all new government debts with Shariah-compliant mode and funds of the ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony related to Hajj, Zakat and Usher should be replaced or invested under Shariah compliant mode.

The Senate also adopted a unanimous resolution of the finance committee that “totally rejected the increase in tax and prices of commodities which are burdening and adversely affecting the common man”.

It said the fertiliser dealers may be provided facility of exemption certificate through electronic system on their sale to the prescribed persons.

Furthermore, the Senate also recommended that Section 58 of the Sales Tax Act, 1990, be omitted in order to protect the tax payers of private companies and the proposed increase of 4.5pc tax in the Finance Bill, 2019, for ship breakers on the import of ships should be brought at par with the steel melters and other steel manufacturers.

The Senate proposed that instead of giving state deductions selectively to the charitable organisations, amendment should be made in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, to give state deductions to all the registered charitable organisations across the board.

The senate also recommended risk management system under Customs Act should be implemented through a risk management committee headed by BPS21 officer of customs under the rules to review functioning and supervise implementation of the risk management system and comprise as many BPS19-20 officers of customs as may be notified by the board.

Also, it suggested that the sales tax should be increased to 6pc and 17pc for those retailers who were not connected to the Federal Board of Revenue in order to bring them into the tax net and sales tax should not be imposed on textile sector and their pending refund claims be cleared at the earliest and steps should be taken to stop issue of fake invoices.

The Senate recommended three year exemption of sales tax to the Brick Kilns falling in PCT code 6901.1000 who were upgrading the production to the S/Z type environment-friendly systems.

Another recommendation demanded that all ad hoc relief allowances should be merged in the running basic pay and 15pc increase should be made in the pay and pension of all the federal government employees while minimum wage for workers be increased up to Rs30,000 per month.

Also, the exempt-able income tax slabs for government employees and armed forces should be fixed at Rs1 million instead of Rs600,000 and their medical allowance and conveyance allowances should be granted on the current market value.

The Senate recommended that the taxpayers of district Pishin, Qillah Saifullah and Qillah Abdullah of Balochistan should be excluded from the provisions of withholding deduction u/s 153(1)(a) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. It also recommended that a simplified and a fixed rate of tax should be introduced on the turnover in order to promote economic activities and to facilitate the traders.

The upper house recommended that agricultural loans granted to the poor farmers and land owners of Balochistan be waived off up to Rs200,000

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