LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly yesterday carried with majority the finance bill to pass the provincial budget for the fiscal year 2017-18.

The Opposition opposed the bill and urged the chair to carry the bill through legislation instead of vote in the house. It also called for taking all stakeholders into confidence on the bill. The Opposition observed a token boycott when its demands were not accepted by Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani.

Punjab Destitute and Helpless Children (Amendment) bill and Education Standard Development Authority bill were also introduced in the house and referred to the standing committee concerned for report within two months.

After the passage of the finance bill, all taxes, duties and fees relevant to the Board of Revenue have been merged with stamp duty that will be enforced through e-stamping system. The merger of all these levies will help procedure of deposit of the amount and departmental coordination. The other taxes and fees, including capital value tax and registration fees have been included in the Stamp Act through an amendment. Now 5 percent fee of the value of urban property and three percent of the rural property will be received. Rs 500 value stamp duty will be required for the registration of documents showing the value of up to Rs five lakh and Rs 1,000 for the amount more than Rs five lakh.

As per the finance bill, stamp duty with the ratio of 3.25 percent on the amount of property leased for less than 20 years and 5.25 per cent on the property leased for 20 years period will be charged. The exemption on the stamp duty provided for under Section 6 of the Finance Bill 2010 (amended) has been retained. The definition provided for the urban area in the Stamp Act, 1899, has also been kept intact. Five percent stamp duty of the total value of property which is gifted will be received and this ratio will be three percent for the rural property. Three percent stamp duty will be received on the transfer of an urban property gifted to the spouse, mother, father, son, daughter, grandmother or grandfather, widow or one wife to the other. In any other case, the duty will be five percent.

The bill has terminated the concession granted earlier to Internet users. Now 19.5 percent GST will be levied on the Internet users whose per month bill will be Rs 1,500 or more. Students are, however, exempted. Tax on construction has been reduced from 15 percent to five percent while development schemes going on through fiscal year 2016-17, civil works in cantonment boards, projects under completion with foreign funding and public-sector development programmes initiated by the federal government will enjoy exemption.

According to the bill, an accused of interference in the official duties will now have to pay the fine of Rs 100,000 instead of Rs 25,000. The bill also authorises the Punjab Revenue Authority to block renewal of the licence of a firm if it does not register itself with PRA.

The house will hold general discussion on the supplementary budget of the last year on Wednesday (today).

Earlier, JI member Dr Waseem Akhtar told the house that the budget would not bring about any phenomenal change in the life of the poor. In his view, the budget will benefit the rich to become richer at the cost of any relief to the poor. Arif Abbasi of PTI said the masses had been left to the mercy of bureaucracy, adding there is no point in the argument that the government has provided any relief to the poor through the budget.

Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha said no new tax had been imposed in the budget; rather an attempt had been made to streamline the existing taxation system. She said the budget would lessen the financial worries of the poor.