ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Finance has sought details from the Ministry of Finance for putting which national assets as guarantees (mortgage) in exchange for more loans or otherwise for Sukuk bonds, which would be issued in next few weeks.

Senate Standing Committee on Finance, which met under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, has noted that incumbent government is continuously issuing Sukuk bonds after putting national assets as guarantees (mortgage). Mandviwalla said that the government had already issued Sukuk bonds twice in last four and half years. “The Ministry of Finance should give details to the committee regarding putting national assets as mortgage in exchange for Sukuk bonds,” Mandviwalla remarked.

The government had decided to issue Sukuk and Euro bonds worth of $2 to $3 billion by the end of November or start of December to avert the balance of payment situation. The ministry had already sought the federal Cabinet's approval for issuing international sovereign Sukuk against the underlying asset of unencumbered portions of Motorway and international sovereign bonds 2017 during the current month in the international capital markets.

The committee proceedings continued for long time without maintaining required strength to even run the proceedings. The committee has also discussed the latest Paradise Leaks papers. The papers mentioned the names of 135 Pakistani nationals including former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former National Insurance Corporation Limited chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi and others. The committee chairman questioned the government regarding action against Pakistanis named in the Paradise Leaks. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) informed the committee that they are collecting information about Pakistani nationals included in the Paradise Leaks papers. “We will act against them as according,” said FBR Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Iqbal.

Mandviwalla said that FBR had not taken any action against 450 Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers leaks. Action was taken only against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified from his seat, he added. The committee has also taken a bill to prohibit the business and practices of private money-lending and advancing loans and transactions based on interest, (the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Prohibition of Interest on Private Loans Act, 2017). The finance secretary proposed that bill is related to prohibition of interest in ICT so it should be forwarded to Senate Standing Committee on Interior. The committee approved the proposal and sent the bill to the aforesaid committee.

Senate Standing Committee on Finance has also taken up the implementation status of budget recommendations given by the Senators for incorporating in the Finance Bill 2017. Mandviwalla said that National Assembly has approved 25 proposals after the submission of recommendations of the Senate . He said that it is not acceptable, as the government should take Senate on board if it approved the recommendations of the National Assembly.