MAQSOOD TIRMIZI & JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN ISLAMABD - Winding up the budget debate in the National Assembly, Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on Friday appealed to the wealthy parliamentarians to pay taxes and be a role model for others. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of those sitting in the parliament to pay their taxes and advise others. I appeal to the parliamentarians, the businessmen, the media and all those who can pay taxes and please take it as your national duty, the Finance Minster said. The Finance Minster covered almost all the areas in his wind-up speech, focusing also on the critical issue of income tax on agriculture. Some parliamentarians, PPP MNAs amongst them, boycotted the concluding speech against the governments decision to impose General Sales Tax (GST) on agri products such as fertilizers and tractors. Addressing, the finance minister said he welcomed suggestions from the legislators and especially from the Senate Committee. Twenty specific recommendations of the committee would become a part of the budget while the remaining would be considered for guidance. Commenting on the issue, Hafeez said the Constitution does not allow the federal government to impose income tax on agriculture and only the provincial governments can. I appeal to the provincial governments to impose it. If your income is more than limited, then you will have to pay the tax. Its only for the rich, he added. Talking about the tax collection and its target, the finance minister said that the government would not further burden those who are paying taxes. However, our target are those who are not ready to pay their taxes despite huge incomes. He said that the government extended the GST network and included some more sectors like textile, sports and the carpet industry. There is a misperception that the focus of the government was on indirect taxes. Only 1.5 million people pay income tax. Now we have identified 0.7million more people to add them in the tax net. These are the people who live in posh areas, visits abroad on vocations or business matters, have two or more bank accounts and do not bother to have their tax ID number. Notices have been served to 78,000 people while tax has been collected from 1000 out of these 0.7 million people, the minister told the House. He said that the performance of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was being improved and 46,000 cheques were issued under the head of tax return while 12000 to 13000 cheques were issued last September. Here in the House, I responsibly say that no one has to pay even a single penny as bribe to FBR officials for these cheques, Hafeez added while referring to the culture of bribe in the revenue department. Brushing aside the impression that the government has withdrawn all subsidies, the minister said that the subsidy was being given on utility stores while 50 billion rupees subsidy was given to control the rates of petroleum products in the current year. He said that the government wants targeted subsidy which would not cater relief to the rich so that the gap between the rich and the poor could be bridged. Talking about the health and education sectors, he said that the government was giving Rs 400 billion extra to the provinces in the NFC Award and the provinces would provide health, education and clean drinking water to the people. The federal government has allocated the same amount for the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the health sector as was required to these institutions. We accept that we could not create job opportunities for the youth. However, we tried to extend the social safety net while a good amount was allocated for micro finance, internship programmes and Bait-ul-Maal. This would be a best year for the youth, he said. The finance minister said that the government also focused on less-developed areas such as AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and the tribal areas, and fixed a huge amount for development in there. About inflation, he said that the government will have to balance its income and expenditures and for this the government gave 15 percent raise in salaries rather than 25 percent that would help out in reducing fiscal deficit. He said that the government reduced taxes to control inflation. Rejecting the allegation that there was nothing for the poor, he said that no new tax was imposed while a number of taxes have been abolished that would help the poor. He added that the value of rupee was down for which the government extended income tax limit from 0.3 million rupees to 0.35 million rupees. He said that due to floods, petroleum prices in international markets and the law and order situation, the growth rate was 2 percent. He said loan from the State Bank was stopped to control inflation. He said Rs 20 billion were reduced in the envisaged government expenditure and a ban placed on buying new cars for the government. He admitted that due to law and order, the government could not enhance investment which reduced the job opportunities in the country. He urged the political forces to unite as it was the requirement of the time. All institutions are working.... State Bank and some other institutions are autonomously working... Please control your ego if some decisions comes against your will, he requested to the parliamentarians. The National Assembly also approved 77 demands for grants over two trillion rupees of different ministries and division for fiscal year 2011-2012. The approved demands for grants were relating to different ministries and divisions of the federal government for the next financial year. The opposition has submitted cut motions on remaining 60 grants of demands that would be discussed in the House. These cut motions are related to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Information and Broadcasting, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Communication, Religious Affairs, Water and Power and the Cabinet Division. The demands for grants were jointly moved by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar. The approved demands for grants were related to the Higher Education Commission, Revenue Division and its allied departments, Planning and Development Division, Housing and Works, Civil Works and its affiliated departments, Human Rights Division, Industries and Production Division and its allied departments, Information Technology and Telecommunications, Inter-Provincial Coordination, Kashmir Affairs, Gilgit Baltistan and others. Responding to criticism by opposition members over raise in the Presidencys expenditure, Minister for Water and Power, Naveed Qamar said that raise in the expenditures of the Presidency up to six percent was only to adjust salaries of the employees working there. He said that the debt-to-GDP ratio had come down from 60 per cent to 55 per cent. Earlier, speaking on demands for grants, opposition member MNA Zahid Hamid said that there was need to increase revenue and control expenditure on the President House. He said that the revised target of the last year has been increased. MNA Zafar Baig Bhitanni said that there should be a limit on borrowing loans, and if the government needed to cross that limit, it must take approval from the Parliament before doing so. Adding his views, Sardar Mehtab was of the view that there should be debate on charge expenditure. There was nothing new in it, he said, while expenditure of the PMs and the Presidents House has been increased. He criticised the working of Pakistan Railways (PR), saying it is sinking. Criticising the Foreign Ministry, Qadir Baloch termed the ministry as a white elephant. About the Pakistan Railway, he commented that in 63 years, we had just damaged this department. He also criticised Wafaqi Mohtasib and postal services. Opposition members Saud Majeed, Malik Abrar, Najma Hameed and others also expressed concern on the working of Railways and the PM and the President Houses expenditure. To a point of order raised by MNA Nadeem Afzal Gondal regarding publication of expunged remarks by the newspapers, Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza ruled publication of expunged remarks is a breach of privilege and contempt of the House and whosoever publishes it can be punished for that breach. She said there are so many rulings of the speakers and of the superior courts in that regard. Speaking on another point of order, MNA Fauzia Wahab condemned the Punjab Law Ministers statement against PPP MNA Babar Awan. She termed Ranas statement as a conspiracy, saying that a resolution should be passed in this regard. While, PML-Ns Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said that there was no need for point-scoring on this matter as it has been resolved. Speaking on another point of order regarding the missing passports issue, Parliamentary Secretary for Interior Rai Mujtaba Kharal said that a joint investigation team of Sindh Police and the FIA would probe the matter of theft of passports from the office of Karachi Travel Agents Association. Agencies add: The PML-N on Friday took back their decision of strong protest and creating a chaos during the speech of Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh after being assured that they would be allowed to speak independently during the debate on cut motions. Sources said that the PML-N had decided to stage a strong protest during the wind-up speech like they did when Hafeez was delivering the budget speech. However, PPP chief whip Khursheed Ahmed Shah met PML-Ns Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Sheikh Aftab and requested them not to disrupt the speech. The PML-N leaders told him that on one condition they will not protest and that is to take up the issue of cut motions in demands of grants of nine ministries and the members who want to participate in the debate must be given opportunity without any hue and cry.