Senate passes debt limitation bill linked with IMF talks

ISLAMABAD   –   The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that is closely linked with the government’s ongoing talks with International Monetary Fund (IMF) amid protest by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The house passed the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (Amendment) Bill 2022, with majority vote, without discussing and referring it to the standing committee concerned. The bill was moved by Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha.

The PTI lawmakers gathered in front of the main dais of Chairman Senate and raised slogans when the bill was being passed by the house.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem and other PTI senators wanted from the chair to refer the bill to the committee concerned for detailed discussion. They said that earlier the house had also passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022 without referring them to the standing committees concerned.

Law Minister and Leader of the House Azam Nazir Tarar pointed out that the bill already passed by the National Assembly had been initiated by the previous PTI government.

Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that the passage of the bill was part of Pakistan’s international obligation. She pointed out that the country could not effectively manage debts and they needed to manage it in a better way.

The bill seeks to achieve key objectives including limiting the stock of government guarantees to 10 percent of GDP; publication of medium term national marco-fiscal framework; and institutionalization of debt management functions in a single office reporting to the Finance Secretary. Under the bill, a debt management office comprising a director general and three directors would be appointed for a term of three years extendable twice.

The house also passed the National Rahmatul-Lil-Aalameen Wa Khatamun Nabiyyin Authority Bill that seeks to establish the National Rahmatul-Lil-Aalameen Wa Khatamun Nabiyyin Authority.

Earlier during the question hour session, the government assured the house that action would be taken against those officers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) who would be found committing misconduct and criminal offence by covering up matters of the recent past.

Minister of State for Law Senator Shahadat Awan giving the assurance said that there would be no favourite while dealing with corruption cases. He also said that they will be ready to review the present setup of the NAB, if it would found to be a burden on the government.

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