ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary committee on Thursday asked the federal government to review its monetisation of transport policy for civil servants in BS-20 to BS-22 as it had enhanced the financial burden on the national kitty instead of reducing it.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, which met under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, termed the monetisation policy as a failed policy. "Our government had introduced this policy to reduce the financial burden , however, neither fuel nor maintenance allowance costs have reduced with the policy," said Mandviwalla, who was finance minister in PPP government’s tenure.

He noted that ministries' budgets had increased, as the officers get full amount in respect of fuel and maintenance allowance while they were also using the government vehicles.

The government approved the "Compulsory Monetization of Transport Facility for Civil Servants in BS-20 to BS-22", which was implemented from 1st January, 2012. The basic objective of this transport monetization policy is in line with the observance of the austerity measures and to eliminate any possibility of misuse of official vehicles, as well as, to restrict the maintenance expenditure of the vehicles to the bare minimum, which shall be used as protocol/operational duty purposes.

However, bureaucrats (from Grade 20 to 22) are misusing official cars despite availing the compulsory monetisation policy - which entitles them to a handsome monthly car allowance - and purchasing official cars at throwaway prices. The government is giving over Rs90, 000 to a grade 22 officer as car allowance, Rs78,000 to grade 21 officer and Rs65,000 to grade 20 officer instead of providing them official vehicles. But many officers are availing both the allowances as well as free rides on cars purchased and run using taxpayers' money.

The Committee chairman proposed that government should review this policy. Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Nisar Khan briefed the committee on the revenue collection during ongoing financial year. He said that government had set a challenging tax collection target Rs3621 billion for the FBR in the current fiscal year, which is hard to achieve. He informed the committee that FBR had missed the target during first quarter (July-September) of the year 2016-17 due to the decline in oil prices, reduction in General Sales Tax on fertilizers and giving zero-rated states to the export sectors and cut in imports.

The FBR had collected Rs625 billion during July-September period of the FY2016-17. The collection had recorded growth of 6 percent as against the target of 18.2 percent.

In written reply, the FBR informed the committee that major decline has been noticed in oil and gas sector with Rs10.7 billion lower collections as compared to the corresponding period last year. The decline of Rs7.2 billion is due to reduction in production activity and reduced sales of Natural gas.

Mandviwalla said that every government sets ambitious tax collection target for the FBR. He said that FBR had taken advance tax from various organizations including National Bank of Pakistan.

Chairman FBR said that government is not considering increasing the tax rates to bridge the tax collection shortfall. Collection would improve with the measures taken in the budget, he said and added new taxation on property sector would be streamlined in the months to come that would enhance the collection of the taxes.