ISLAMABAD -  A parliamentary panel on Friday raised serious objections to the government’s Public Private Partnership Regulatory Bill, 2016 and deferred it for further deliberation.

“We have serious objections to the various clauses of the bill and therefore cannot pass the bill in hurry,” said Senator Saleem Mandviwala while chairing a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance. The committee also discussed other agenda items including the double taxation issues in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

The Senate Standing Committee also directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to convene a meeting of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Council and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Council to resolve the double taxation issues in their respective areas.

Briefing the committee about the Public Private Partnership Regulatory Bill, 2016, the officials of the Ministry of Finance said that there is need to regulate the projects being executed under the public private partnership on federal level. In the coming days there will be increased funding for public private partnership and it will need a proper regulatory mechanism, they added. Regulatory bodies were already established to regulate the public private partnership projects on the provincial level, the officials asserted.

The official of the finance ministry has presented “the Public Private Partnership Regulatory Bill, 2016” and informed that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will head the regulatory body. The members of the committee refused to approve the bill saying that they cannot pass the bill hurriedly as they have strong objections to the various clauses of the bill.

Senator Mandviwala and other members of the committee objected the nomination of the finance minister as a head of the proposed regulatory body and said that morally a minister cannot become head of the regulatory body or board member.

Senator Mohsin Laghari termed the bill unnecessary and said that since the number of government members exceed the private members which kills the purpose of the establishment of the regulatory body.

Senator Ilyas Bilour said that the government has brought the existing regulatory bodies under the ministries which indicates that the proposed regulatory authority will also neither be free nor sovereign. The committee deferred government’s Bill “The Public Private Partnership Regulatory Bill, 2016 for further deliberation and Private member bill titled ‘The Partnership (Amendment Bill, 2016).

FBR member Rahamatullah Wazir informed the meeting that AJK and GB were collecting the tax with their respective councils and not considering the active tax payers list of the FBR. The committee was informed that companies operating in these areas were paying double tax as a tax filer in FBR was “treated as no-filer in AJK and GB”.

The committee directed to resolve the issue in order to facilitate the companies operating in these areas as well as to avoid the double taxation.

The committee was further informed that about 1.2 million people filed their tax returns in 2015 and about 704,935 filers submitted their correct declarations.

It was informed that about 93,276 cases were set for audit including Income Tax, Sales Tax and Federal Excise duty, adding that the exercise would encourage tax payers.

The committee was also informed that four Large Taxpayers Units (LTUs) and 18 Regional Tax Offices (RTOs) were working in the country to collect the revenue as well as facilitate the tax payers. On another agenda item regarding the import of auto parts in shape of scrap, Senator Mian Muhammad Atique Shaikh observed that it was destroying the local auto industry. The FBR member informed the committee that suggestion of the meeting would be implemented to overcome the issue including enhancing the duty on the import of such scrap.