ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Bureau of Statistics yesterday said next general elections of the country would he held on the basis population census which was going to start from March 15 this year.

PBS Chief Statistician/Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance that every Pakistani would be counted in the census whether he had national identity card or not. He averred census would be conducted in two phases in the country, adding it could not be conducted in one phase due to unavailability of the army. Farooq Sattar of MQM has raised 23 questions regarding the upcoming census. The committee recommended that the questionnaire received from Dr Farooq Sattar would be forwarded to PBS for its replies. The committee recommended the issues pertaining to North Waziristan/Fata for IDPs census should be resolved with the consultation of parliamentarians from Fata.

The chief statistician informed the committee that a meeting had been scheduled to be held on February 28 at Fata Secretariat in this regard. It also recommended that IDPs/Fata matter should be taken as an exceptional case due to its current circumstances.

The committee that met under its chairman Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh discussed the launch of amnesty scheme for repatriation of funds/assets from overseas in the country. Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh told the committee that the said matter was raised by the Federation of Chamber of Commerce president during his speech in Karachi in the presence of the finance minister and businessmen.  The committee unanimously recommended that written proposals would be sought from the business forum in this regard and forwarded to FBR for its further consideration.

PTI MNA Asad Umar opposed the launch of tax amnesty scheme for overseas Pakistanis on return of their assets and funds in the country. He said Pakistan’s parliament and government were supporting tax evaders by giving amnesty scheme to whiten their black money. “I have asked the finance minister that overseas Pakistanis would not support any amnesty scheme,” he added.

The committee members were briefed by the Member (Audit) FBR on the audit policy. Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, chairman, Standing Committee on Finance, informed the NA body of the grave concern among the industrialists on discriminatory and uneven audit policy of FBR. He was of the opinion that FBR should facilitate the business community and general public by providing confidence for bringing them into tax net.

It was also suggested that a separate institution should be established for auditing of industries etc. instead of FBR. The committee recommended to FBR for offering their views in this regard in the next meeting. The committee recommended that FBR should revisit its audit policy for the improvement of business environment in the country.

The committee discussed the PSDP of Finance Division, Revenue Division and Statistics Division in detail and recommended that new projects proposed by the Finance Division should be allocated requisite funds on priority basis.

 The committee also recommended that requisite funds should be provided to Revenue and Statistics Division. However, the committee could not consider the project of HEC and decided to discuss the same in its next meeting on today (Wednesday).

While considering the report of the sub-committee formed under Mian Abdul Mannan MNA to resolve the anomalies of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) valuation table on property tax with consultation of the stakeholders. The committee directed the FBR chairman for resolving the anomalies’ issues in the light of the recommendations made by its sub-committee.

The committee was requested by the representative of the Ministry of Law and Justice that Public Interest Disclosures Bill, 2017, be deferred because the same would be considered in the upcoming meeting of the Ministry of Law on February 27.

The meeting was attended by Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Muhammad Talal Chaudhry, Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, Dr Shizra Mansab Ali Khan Kharral, Mian Abdul Mannan, Shiza Fatima Khawaja, Leila Khan, Syed Naveed Qamar, Asad Umar, Muahmmad Ali Rashid, Dr Farooq Sattar, Muhammad Muzzamal Qureshi and senior officers from the ministries of finance, revenue, economic affairs, privatisation, statistics, Federal Board of Revenue and ministry of law & justice.