ISLAMABAD The members of Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on Monday termed the discussion on Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) as unconstit-utional, as they said Provincial Assemblies have to pass a resolution before Federal Government tables its bill in the parliament. The Committee met under the chair of Senator Islamuddin Shaikh in the absence of its chairman Senator Ahmed Ali who is not in the country. Chaudhary Anwar Bhinder, ex Senator, who attended the meeting on the request of the committee members, was of the view that provinces did not pass any resolution asking the centre to make legislation for them regarding RGST on combined goods and services. Therefore, it is unconstit-utional to discuss it here, he added. He further said that federal government is only legislating RGST on the basis of meetings held with the secretaries of the provinces, as there is no resolution coming from any assembly. However, Law Ministry official, Malik Hakam said that the point on which Senators are showing reservation is concerned only to Islamabad Capital Territory not with the provinces. However, he did not give its detail by saying that he had little time to study it in detail. Meanwhile, the Senators showed concerns over the time shortage for discussing RGST. They were of the view that they did not get time to study the bill in detail. Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Abdul Hafiz Shiakh, said that we are brining only one new tax that is flood surcharge while RGST is not new one, as we are bringing reforms in GST. He further said that tax to GDP ratio remained low in every regime either it was civilian or military. There is dire need to increase it, he added. Everyone wants that his family, factory and profession remains exempted from taxes, therefore, they start opposing every tax, the minister said and added that there were strong people in the country and if we add all of them, then no tax would be imposed in the country. He further said that we would review the options of imposing taxes on agriculture and real states. Later talking to the media after the meeting, he said RGST is not inflationary one. To a question he said, there were lots of problems in tax machinery, which need to be addressed. Prof Khurshid Ahmed of Jamat-e-Islami in his remarks said that there should be no hurry in legislating of RGST, if government did not have any pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He quoted the example of India, which took around two years in reviewing its draft of RGST, while we are taking it so causal by legislating it in just few days, he added. He was also of the view that before Provincial Governments resolution, its discussion in the Parliament is unconstitutional. There are many other options from which revenue could be generated instead of RGST therefore government should also consider other available options, he demanded. Speaking on the occasion, Senator Haroon Khan of Pakistan Muslim League asked why did government feel need of RGST bill? He further said that the government is introducing it at the time when inflation rate is around 16 percent, which could further accelerate after its imposition in the country. He demanded of the government to impose tax on agriculture sector, which represents 22 percent of the GDP, while paying only one percent taxes. Is government reduces its expenditures before putting additional taxation burden on poor masses in shape of RGST and flood surcharge, he questioned? Senator Ilyas Ahmad Bilour, Awami National Party (ANP), asked whether the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) enhance its capacity building regarding curtailment of corruption in the board, as it has failed to control fake refunds. He demanded of the government to give exemptions to the locally produced medicines, while imported ones should be taxed. The minimum level of income tax turnover should be increased to Rs 10.5 million instead of Rs 7.5 million, he said and added that government should review the draft of RGST before its approval, as there are many errors in it. Senator Talha Mahmood, JUI-F, also termed the RGST bill as unconstitutional and said that we did not accept it, as it would create financial problems for the poor masses. The government should eliminate Pak Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, because it is the root of corruption. By doing this government could generate much more amount than what it will achieve through RGST, he added.