Published in The Nation newspaper on 21-Jan-2013
ISLAMABAD - Abrar Saeed and imran ali kundi - Pakistan People’s Party has geared up efforts to evolve consensus on formation of province comprising Southern Punjab districts and most likely the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on formation of new provinces in Punjab would table its report in the National Assembly session starting from Monday (today) while the fate of much controversial tax amnesty scheme to whiten black money and assets at home and abroad within three months against a onetime nominal charge would also be tabled in the session.
According to details, sources in PPP informed that former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was playing key role in evolving consensus among the stakeholders, especially those demanding restoration of Bahawalpur province.
The appointment of Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood as Governor Punjab and his three sons entry into PPP were the part of the efforts to appease those demanding provincial status for Bahawalpur.
Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood was one of the staunch supporter of movement for restoration of Bahawalpur province and his support for the new province comprising south Punjab districts and shift from his earlier stand would be a great success for the PPP, which wanted to use this issue as the basis of their campaign for the upcoming general elections.
Sources further said that PPP Co-Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari has given free hand to Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to deal with this issue and also handle the overall election campaign of the party in South Punjab districts.
Sources further said that Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was nowadays holding talks with stakeholders having divergent point of view on the issue, as some of them wanted some parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as part of this new province besides all the districts of South Punjab. While there are also people who were demanding status of province for old Bahawalpur State.
Sources in the PPP informed that the party leadership during their meetings with the people of Bahawalpur Division and those demanding provision of status of province for Bahawalpur, offered them that the new Seraiki province would be given the nomenclature of Bahawalpur province.
However, the differences on the capital of the new province still existed between the stakeholders, as the supporters of Bahawalpur province demanded that Bahawalpur should be declared as the capital while others were of the view that Multan should be made provincial capital.
Sources further said that Gilani has so far got the support of Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood while he was also contacting other stakeholders to convince them on the PPP’s point of view as according to him it is high time to get the matter approved from both the National Assembly as well as Punjab Assembly, as after the next general elections it would become difficult to get the matter approved from the Assemblies.
On the other hand, the Parliamentary Commission for creation of new provinces was also working on the same lines and would likely propose creation of only one province instead of proposing two provinces as demanded by certain stakeholders who wanted provincial status for old Bahawalpur State besides formation of South Punjab province.
Sources said that the commission, which landed in controversy since its constitution because main Opposition PML-N had boycotted its proceedings, would not be proposing inclusion of areas from Dera Ismail Khan and parts of district Bannu from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some Seraiki speaking areas of Balochistan in the proposed Seraiki Province.
The Commission would also not be recommending inclusion of some parts of Punjab like Khushab and Sahiwal in the proposed province to avoid making the move controversial, a source in the commission informed The Nation.
Sources further said that PPP wanted to table the recommendations in the National Assembly to put PML-N under pressure as after getting affirmative nod from the Lower House of the Parliament the resolution would be sent to Punjab Assembly where it would require two-thirds strength for formal approval for creation of new province.
While with just one-third strength the MPs in the Punjab Assembly could scrap the move.
Meanwhile, the fate of much controversial tax amnesty scheme to whiten black money and assets at home and abroad within three months against a onetime nominal charge would also be decided in the National Assembly session to be started from Monday (today), it was learnt.
Sources said that National Assembly would take up the tax amnesty scheme, “The Tax Laws (Amendment) 2012”, in its session to be started from Monday. The Senate has already approved the tax amnesty scheme with few amendments and referred to the National Assembly for final approval.
The government is likely to face tough time from Opposition as well from its coalition partners in passing the tax amnesty scheme in the Lower House of the Parliament, as they already opposed it in the Upper House.
The main Opposition party PML-N and coalition partners of the government, PML-Q and MQM, already opposed it in the Senate. Awami National Party (ANP) staged a walkout when the House was going to pass the recommendations, stating, that the party did not want to become part of this process.
The government on December 17, 2012 has introduced ‘The Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012’ in the National Assembly, launching the tax amnesty scheme that would allow evaders to whiten their black money and assets at home and abroad within three months against a nominal one-time charge to generate around Rs 100 billion. However, the eminent economists termed it a “financial NRO” that would discourage the honest taxpayers of the country who are regularly paying their taxes.
The government has planned to generate Rs 100 billion from amnesty scheme that would help in reaching its revised tax collection target, as Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is struggling to meet the target during the ongoing financial year 2012-2013. The FBR has so far collected Rs 900 billion in the first six months (July-December) of the current fiscal year 2012-2013 against the projected target of Rs 970 billion, leading to shortfall of around Rs 70 billion. FBR is considering to downward revised the revenue collection target from Rs 2381 billion to Rs 2200 billion during the current fiscal year 2012-2013.
The FBR has identified 2.9 million tax-evaders that would be brought under tax net by paying taxes by availing the tax amnesty scheme. Among 2.9 million, 2.7 million people would be given an option to come under the tax net by paying Rs 40,000 in the first month of scheme by declaring their hidden income/assets of upto Rs 5 million.
They will have to pay Rs 50,000 in the second month and Rs 70,000 in the third month of the scheme to avail the facility.
“If the amount of undeclared income/assets/expenditures exceeds Rs 5 million, tax rate for the declared value will be one per cent in the first month of the scheme, 1.25 per cent in the second month and 1.75 per cent in the third month. No question about the source of undisclosed assets would be asked.
The Federal Board of Revenue has decided to serve notices to 0.2 million ‘super rich’ individuals to file income tax returns as well as wealth statements. The “super rich” people have been picked on the basis of their expenditures and high consumption lifestyle.
South Punjab, tax amnesty scheme to appear in NA
Published in The Nation newspaper on 21-Jan-2013