ISLAMABAD - Amid criticism over “tax amnesty scheme” by major opposition parties, the government in the National Assembly’s proceedings laid the ordinance on “economic reforms package”.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had recently announced the Economic Reforms Package by substantially reducing the income tax rates to declare local and foreign assets by paying a nominal tax.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s Naveed Qamar, initiating the debate, termed it a pre-budget move by the incumbent government.

“Why the government rushed to move ordinance, as this scheme could also be introduced after 15 days in the 6th federal budget of this government,” said Qamar, commenting that how the next government after 45 days would implement it in letter and spirit.

“It seems the government has lost confidence to pass this scheme in the budget, so it rushed to pass it through an ordinance,” he said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, taking part in the debate, said that this amnesty scheme would be a slap on the face of honest taxpayers of the country.

“There must be something wrong, so the government rushed to approve it through an ordinance,” said Qureshi, announcing that the PTI would not accept the 6th federal budget of the PML-N government as the incumbent government’s tenure will end in five months.

Another PTI MNA Sajid Nawaz, on his turn, threatened to self-immolate, if the government did not give relief to the people of his area.

“Fake electricity bills were issued in my area (NA-3) to poor people. Amnesty should be provided to them,” he said.  

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s Sheikh Salahuddin and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)’s Sahibzada Tariqullah also strongly opposed the government’s move.

Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail, responding to the concerns raised by the opposition, claimed that “proceeds of criminal activities or corruption would not able to take benefit from the tax amnesty scheme.”

“This scheme is aimed at increasing the tax base and it will help attract more investment in the country,” he said, mentioning that this historic package would provide unprecedented relief to the salaried class by substantially reducing the tax rates.

According to the policy, all the undeclared incomes earned before June 30, 2017, on all local assets (gold, bonds, property etc) can be legalised on a payment of five per cent penalty.

Through this scheme, the foreign assets holders could bring their undeclared foreign money in the country by paying a two per cent penalty.

All undeclared incomes earned before June 30, 2017 on all local assets (gold, bonds, property etc) can be regularised on a payment of five per cent, according to the amnesty scheme.

The MNAs raise concerns over spread of “blasphemous material” against Hindu community on social media.

The opposition lawmakers demanded proper action against “blasphemous material on social media”, which hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community.

MNA Ramesh Lal said that blasphemous material on social media was an attempt to disgrace their belief.

“There should be proper action taken with the help of the FIA’s cyber crime wing,” he said.

PTI’s Shah Mehmod Qureshi said that there should be proper action against the malicious social media campaign aimed at hurting the feelings of the Hindus.

National Assembly speaker asked the concerned minister get a case registered with the FIA on the matter.

State Minister Talal Chaudhary said that the matter would be examined properly.