ISLAMABAD

The government should not make tax evasion as part of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Amendment Bill, as taxpayers would be victimised through it, Senate Standing Committee on Finance said on Wednesday.

Members of the committee expressed serious concern on bringing tax crimes/ tax evasion and taxation offences into the ambit of money laundering - part of the proposed AML Amendment Bill. "There is no clarity in the bill", said Chairman of the committee Senator Saleem Mandviwalla. He added that members of the committee are demanding that tax evasion should not be part of the AML Bill. However, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) clarified that it would not be for the common man. Those people would come under proposed AML who is tax evader of Rs 10 million and earning Rs 30 million annually, which are very few in Pakistan, said Shahid Hussain Asad Senior Member (Inland Revenue) Policy of the FBR. He added that Senate's panel could recommend enhancing the minimum limit from Rs 10 million but it should approve the bill, which is according to the requirements of the international departments. He further said that only issuing notices to the non-taxpayers would not mean that he would not subjected proceed against AML.

Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Saeed Ahmad informed the Senate's body that only unusual Suspicious Transaction Report would come to Financial Monitoring Unit. The banks monitor those accounts where unusual transactions take place. He said in a specific case a person was using bank accounts of his driver and cook for suspicious transactions.

The committee decided to summon next meeting on Anti Money Laundering (AML) amendment Bill in SBP to finalise it. The Senate committee on Finance also discussed the Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and their families regarding the issuance of non-opening of bank accounts.

Senators said that banks closed the account of the politicians under PEP regulations of the SBP. "People are worried of the PEP law, as banks do not open the accounts of politicians and their families", chairman committee said. He further said that SBP should give directions to the banks not to close the accounts of the people.

Deputy Governor SBP said that we have asked the banks not to close the accounts of the people. "The bank could ask the sources of income when unusual transactions take place", he said. He further said that he had also suffered due to this process. Faisal Bank Islamabad had taken 21 days to transfer my $10,000 to Mezan Bank Karachi, as banks suspected me as Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of Jamaat Ud Dawah.

Earlier, Secretary Privatisation Commission Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera informed that government has stopped signing an agreement with financial advisors for privatising two power distribution companies of Sukkur and Hyderbabad (Sepco and Hesco). Chairman Privatisation Commission Mohammad Zubair would hold meeting Sindh's Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah on August 26-27 to discuss to hand over Sepco and Hesco to provincial government, he added.

He also disclosed that Sindh Chief Minister had formally written a letter to the prime minister in this regard. "Discos should not be privatised without provinces consultation", Committee chairman asked the Privatisation Commission. Senator Islamuddin Shaikh said that government not privatise the power distribution companies, as we should keep K-electric privatisation in mind. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said that we should learn lesson from the privatisation of Heavy Mechanical Complex. "How government accept cheque against selling public sector entity", he asked from the Secretary Privatisation Commission.

"We knew cheque will bounce but we have no other option as it was the judgment",Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera replied.

It is worth mentioning here that the government has cancelled its privatisation deal for Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC) after the Rs 225 million cheque deposited by Cargill Holdings Limited was dishonoured.