ISLAMABAD - A report of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance about a bill designed to amend the tax laws with an aim to provide a mechanism for bringing potential taxpayers into the tax net was presented in the Lower House on Thursday, but with certain reservations from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

The report on the Tax Laws (Amendment, 2012) presented by the committee’s acting chairperson, Nafisa Shah, said it would provide a mechanism for bringing potential taxpayers into the tax base by amending the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.

According to the statement of objects and reasons, the bill is aimed at enforcing compliance to the tax laws by giving a one-time opportunity to unregistered persons and non-filers to regularise their tax affairs though adoption of a simplified procedure.

"The bill also seeks to give an overriding effect to the relevant provisions over the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1974, Companies Ordinance, 1984, and Foreign Exchange Ordinance, 2002, in respect of the voluntary declaration initiatives made under 120A and of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001,'' it added.

Taking the floor of the House, MQM lawmaker Abdul Rashid Godil said his party had opposed the bill in the standing committee as it would give a legal cover to landlords. "We even walked out of the committee on it," he said as he registered his reservations about it.

"The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is incompetent, and it has failed to implement its policies. There is a leakage of Rs450billion in the FBR. I don't know how the FBR will bring 3.2 million people in the tax net through this scheme. The aim of this scheme is only to whiten the black money made from corruption, smuggling and drug trafficking," he said.

"I don't know where the money would be spent if the government says that Rs124billion revenue would be collected by bringing 3.2 million people in the tax base. The government is not giving any benefit to the people who are paying taxes," he said.

The House with a thin presence of legislators from both sides of the aisle once again refrained from touching the Constitution (23rd Amendment Bill), 2012, apparently due to the lack of required strength.

Federal Minister Interfaith Harmony Akram Maseeh Gill, while registering his protest, staged a walkout from the House. "It is coming on agenda for the past two weeks, but due to a short strength it could not be taken up in the House," he said, while speaking on a point of order. Gill also said the House could not even gathered 228 members to get it passed.