ISLAMABAD          -       The government on Tuesday has informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that it has stopped the release of the supplementary grants, which are only approved in emergency situations.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which met under the chair of Senator Farooq H Naik, has discussed the Constitution (Amendment), bill. The bill was introduced by Senator Sherry Rehman in Senate, seeking to amend the Article 84 of the Constitution to require the federal government to get approval of the National Assembly before authorising supplementary and excess grants.

Sherry Rehman said that government is misusing the supplementary grants, which should be used in emergency situations. She further said that government should get approval of the supplementary grants from the National Assembly. She demanded that government should amend the Article 84 of the Constitution.

Special Secretary Finance informed the committee that government has stopped the supplementary grants. Supplementary grants were Rs240-million in fiscal year 2018-19 and Rs20 billion in last fiscal year 2019-20. He said that government would approve the supplementary grants to tackle with COVID-19.

Chairman committee said that parliament’s intervention is important in budget related matters. He directed the ministry of finance to prepare a detailed working paper on this bill in next 15 days. The committee has also discussed taxation issues arising after merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhawa.

Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi said that previous government had vowed that erstwhile FATA would enjoy tax exemptions by 2023. New industries would be established for the development of the area, which would provide employment opportunities.

However, the government has not imposed Federal Excise Duty (FED) in the area, which forced the people to flight their capital from there. However, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has informed the committee that government has imposed FED, as people from other areas were investing in FATA.

The committee has sought the details of number of factories and amount generated from FED in FATA from the FBR. The committee has also discussed the issue of taxation related to Gwadar. The FBR’s officials informed the committee that government is charging one per cent income tax on imported goods.

The committee has sought detailed report from the FBR in this regard. Senaotr Mohammad Akram informed the committee that agriculture bank is not providing loans to the farmers in his area. The farmers are facing problems by not getting loans from the banks. The committee has decided to summon the Governor State Bank of Pakistan for briefing the committee on loans matters in next meeting.