ISLAMABAD               -           A parliamentary committee on Thursday expressed displeasure over the delay in constituting the board of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) from last several months, which is affecting the performance of the Bank.

The meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs was held under the chairmanship of Faiz Ullah, MNA. The committee has asked from the government about delay in formulation of ZTBL board. Committee members were of the view that performance of the ZTBL is getting affected due to the ministry of finance, which failed to constitute its Board from last several months. They have noted that loan disbursement of the ZTBL has declined by 43 percent.

Sohail Rajput, Additional Secretary, ministry of finance informed the Committee about the reason of delay regarding formulation of ZTBL Board. He said that the proposed nominations were sent to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for necessary actions including security clearance for last more than two months, which was still awaited. The Committee expressed its displeasure on the procedural delays in this regard and directed the Special Secretary, M/o Finance to intervene in the matter. It said summary for the formulation of said Board may be submitted to the Prime Minister at the earliest for smooth and effective working of the Bank.

Dr Hamid Attique, Member (IR Policy) Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), briefed the Committee regarding the expected collection of revenues towards achieving the targets set by the government in the Budget 2020-21. The committee was informed that annual tax collection target of FBR is Rs4.963 trillion for the current fiscal year. The government has targeted to collect Rs1989 billion in income tax, Rs1991 billion in sales tax, Rs677 billion in customs and Rs305 billion in Federal Excise Duty (FED). FBR’s officials informed the committee that government had set challenging tax collection target to achieve better results.

The committee was informed that FBR had achieved the revised tax collection target of Rs3907 billion in last fiscal year.Covid-19 had affected the tax collection in previous financial year. Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Member (Inland Revenue), briefed the Committee about the refunds issued by the FBR in respect of Income Tax and Sales Tax. The Committee expressed its satisfaction on the presentation given by the Member (Inland Revenue). The Committee directed that FBR should make its procedure faster to facilitate the business community. Member (IR) shared the details of the refunds issued to exporters during current fiscal year. The Committee also directed to furnish the details of pending refunds before 2014.

The Committee offered Fateha on sad demises of the officers and officials of FBR during current pandemic of COVID-19 and admired the role of Shuhada. The Committee further recommended that special package should be provided to the families of 31 Shuhada of FBR, who died during service, recently. The Committee directed the Chairman, FBR to provide incentives to FBR employees those have worked hard during Budget 2020-21.

Dr. Sania Nishter, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection briefed the Committee about the Ehsaas Program launched by the government for distribution of funds to vulnerable families in Pakistan, during current pandemic of COVID-19. She expressed the procedure of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Project, wherein, 16.9 million families would be catered by providing Rs12000/- per family (one time). She also shared the international practices with regard to cash transfer programme. She said that unconditional cash transfer program have much lower cost per beneficiary than in kind of food distribution. She explained the salient features of Ehsaas infrastructure leveraged for emergency cash. The Committee highly appreciated and admired the role of Dr. Sania Nishter on her devotion and effective working for Pakistan and assured her its full cooperation in this regard.

The Committee deferred the briefing by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission regarding sectoral impact of post-corona and government strategies in this respect due to short of time. Managing Director, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) was also present in the meeting. The Committee members have expressed their concern about the functioning of USC, however, the Committee unanimously decided that an exclusive meeting would be called shortly to discuss the subsidy given by the USC to the common people and Rs.50b package allocated to USC by the government.