ISLAMABAD - The Senate on Monday approved its recommendations on the Finance Bill 2019-20 for their further consideration to the National Assembly — the Lower House of Parliament that has powers to approve or disapprove the money bill.

Senator Farooq H Naek, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance & Revenue, presented report of the Committee including recommendations on the Federal budget that were unanimously approved by the House.

Senator Naek after the approval of budgetary recommendations said that the Committee worked day and night to finalise the same.

“The Committee proposes 65 recommendations on the Finance Bill besides 94 general consensus recommendations while 68 consensus recommendations related to Public Sector Development Programme have been formulated by the Senate Standing Committee on Planning & Development which have been made part of the report,” he said while giving the details.  The members of the House, entrepreneurs and companies proposed various amendments to the Committee, he added.

Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar assured the House that the government would sincerely and objectively consider these proposals in the National Assembly.

In one of its major recommendations, the House proposed to the National Assembly that the increase in price of sugar as proposed in the Finance Bill may be withdrawn rather the government should take steps to decrease the same considering the fact that Pakistan exports sugar to international markets.

A major suggestion is about keeping sugar prices low to help export of commodity

The House recommended that the recent re-evaluation of properties by the Federal Board of Revenue may not be increased more than 20 per cent as this exercise has already been done in the recent past. It also proposed reduction in taxes on the transactions in real estate sector.

The House said that the proposed increase in sales tax on ghee, cooking oil and dry milk should be withdrawn.  It said that the advance income tax being collected from the subscribers of mobile phones through prepaid mobile cards should be withdrawn being an injustice to the common man.

It said that special tax exemption to the steel sector is being abolished in the Finance Bill and the sector will have to pay 17 per cent Federal Excise Duty. If not zero, the relief should be maintained by only 4 per cent FED.

The House recommended to the National Assembly that exemption in income tax slabs for government servants and Armed Forces should be fixed at Rs 0.1 million annually instead of proposed Rs 0.6 million.

It also said that the tax rate for rental income should be reduced by 20 per cent against the proposed increase of 35 per cent for highest slab. It recommended that the tax rate on dividend income is 15 per cent for individuals which is very high and it should be reduced to its earlier rate of 10 per cent. The Senate proposed to the Lower House that 20 per cent increase may be given to the Federal government employees of grade 1 to 16 and 10 per cent ad hoc relief may be given to all Federal government employees of grade 17 and above.

It said that 10 per cent ad hoc relief allowances for the fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018 should be merged in the basic pay of civil servants and Pakistan Armed Forces alongwith further increase in the running basic pay.  It recommended that medical allowance and conveyance allowance should be granted on current market values to Federal government employees and Pakistan Armed Forces. In order to promote economic activities and to facilitate the traders, a simplified rate of tax be introduced and a fixed rate of tax should be introduced on the turnover, one of the recommendations said.

It recommended that the annual budget allocated for Higher Education Commission (HEC) has been proposed Rs 29 billion only in the Finance Bill which should be increased to the tune of Rs 50 billion. It also recommended that the proposal to make 20 per cent cut in the health budget than the previous fiscal year should be withdrawn.

The House proposed to allow storage battery manufacturers to sell their products for solar solutions at zero rate of sales tax to remain at par with the commercial importers of solar solutions.

It recommended that tariff slabs for the use of natural gas to be revised for the province of Balochistan and funds be allocated in the current Federal budget.