ISLAMABAD - Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Tariq Pasha on Tuesday said that the Ministry of Law and Justice has moved the summary of Benami Act 2017 to the federal cabinet for approval after vetting its rules.

He made these remarks in the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which was held here at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla. With the absence of Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh, the item regarding impact of third tier excise duty (FED) on Tobacco Control (FCTC) could not be fully deliberated upon. However, the FBR chairman provided a positive input to the committee that illicit trade of tobacco had been reduced since legal trade had captured the markets, raising revenues collected by FBR.

Senator Osman Saifullah Khan showed concern whether increase in revenue was due to increased tobacco consumption. Upon this point, the FBR chairman ensured that there had been significant increase in enforcement of policies which led to better revenue output. He further briefed the committee regarding change of sales tax rates on petroleum without the approval of the Cabinet in July, 2017. He mentioned that ex-post facto approval had been taken from the cabinet because at that particular time, the cabinet stood dissolved.

Senator Manviwalla demanded clarification on how the sales tax was changed. The FBR chairman replied that a formula was incorporated and orders were not made in FBR but it was a policy decision taken in higher echelons. However, now in the new policy, the cabinet approval was not mandated.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha raised concern over an unprecedented issue of misuse of authority by customs officials as reported by a news channel. He apprised the FBR chairman to initiate investigation into the matter to determine its validity and authenticity. The FBR chairman agreed to comply and report back in the next meeting. Senator Mandviwalla inquired whether rules had been made under Benami Act, 2017, to which the FBR chairman responded with positive input that Ministry of Law and Justice had vetted the rules and a summary had been prepared for approval in next cabinet meeting.

Senator Agha wanted to postpone the issue of providing subsidy to the sugar mill owners on the account that the manufacturers of sugar failed to compensate the sugar growers. The State Bank of Pakistan responded that due instructions had been given to the banks on the issue of extension of maturity period for repayments of overdrafts by Sugar Mill Industry.