ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Wednesday made a revelation that neither of the government’s department has the data of around 70 million people out of total population of 190 million.

Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that neither of the government’s department has the data of around 70 million people, as we have the data of only 120 million persons. He said that there is need of fresh census to determine the exact number of refugees living in Pakistan.

He further said that the government was ready to conduct the national census in March this year. However, it was delayed due to Pakistan Army, which is engaged in operation Zarb-e-Azb.

“We could not conduct the census without support of Pakistan Army,” Bajwa said and added that there is no alternate system to conduct census without Army.

According to the plan, he said that one Army man would be deputed with each enumerator who would be deputed for one block and there were in total 167,000 blocks.

Speaking on the occasion, committee member Kamil Ali Agha said that it was not a solution that army is conducting every task in the country. The government should formulate alternate policy for conducting population census and bring in Council of Common Interest for approval, he added.

The Senate committee also recommended to the government to withdraw General Sales Tax on domestic electricity bills. The committee members termed the GST on electricity bills injustice to the poor and middle class. Senator Tahir Mashhadi recommended the government to increase the direct taxes by collecting taxes from the wealthier on their huge income.

Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood gave briefing on the profit rates on National Saving Schemes, which were reduced by the government due to the cut in interest rates by State Bank.

He pointed out the government still was offering higher rates on its saving schemes as compared to the market rate. Agha said saving schemes are in the benefit of the government so the people should not be discouraged to invest in the saving schemes by reducing profit rates.

FBR Chairman Nisar Khan informed the committee that government had imposed withholding tax of 0.4 per cent on banking transactions of over Rs 50,000 from non-tax payers in order to broaden the tax net. He informed the committee that ratio of direct taxes had also increased from 38 per cent three years back to 41 per cent now due to the tax reforms initiated by the government.