ISLAMABAD    -   A parliamentary committee on Thursday sought viewpoint from the ministry of finance on a proposed amendment in constitution to stop awarding supplementary grants to the federal ministries without approval of parliament.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs in its meeting on Thursday reviewed Private Member Bills referred to it by the House. While taking up the Private Members Bill titled the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 introduced by Senator Sherry Rehman, the Committee agreed to the Secretary Finance request for more time to review the Bill. Chairman Committee, Senator Farooq Hamid Naek directed the Law Ministry that senior officers be present to respond to the query of parliamentarians. He asserted that the reverence of the Parliament must be maintained.

In her remarks, Sherry said that supplementary grants should be given after approval of the parliament. However, the amendment would not apply to national security issues and emergency situation. She further said that ministries are relaying on supplementary grants to fulfill their expenditures. The government had utilized over Rs600 billion supplementary grants during last fiscal year. These grants had increased by 90 percent. She was of the view that volume of supplementary grants is much higher in Pakistan as compared to other countries.

Secretary Finance has sought some details from the committee as the government is reviewing the bill.

The meeting commenced with consideration of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019, introduced by Senator Dr Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi. At present, under the Companies Act, 2017, declaration of dividend by the Company is not binding. The Board of Directors of the Committee decides whether to pay dividend or reinvest the profit earned by a Company. As per annual report of the Karachi’s Stock Exchange, 2010-2018, out of which 562 listed companies only 246 paid dividends to their shareholders while as many as 114 did not despite earning profit. The Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan opposed the Bill. The Committee recommended that 50 percent of profits must be paid as dividend to investors and 50 percent must be paid as dividend. This would play an important role in reviving the Stock Exchange culture. Chairman Committee directed that Senator Ghous Muhammad Niazi and Security Exchange Commission must via media to protect the right of the investor.

Discussing the Private Member’s Bill titled the Constitution (Amendment) Act introduced by Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh on 6th May, 2019, Chairman Committee; Senator Farooq Hamid Naek said that this amendment must most likely be made to Section 489-F of the Pakistan Penal Code. The Private Members Bill titled the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2019 also introduced by Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh on 6th May, 2019 was withdrawn.

Consideration of the Starred Question No 139, asked by Senator Mir Kabir Muhammad Ahmed Shah on 30th April, 2019, regarding number of persons working in the M/o Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs and its attached departments, the Committee pointed out the fact that number of seats especially the applicable quota for Balochistan had been miscalculated and was being awarded much smaller number of seats that allocated. Chairman Committee, Senator Farooq Hamid Naek objected to the use of the word ‘sanctioned’ while referring to seats in Balochistan. The Ministry assured the Committee that it would probe the matter of calculation of the Balochistan quota and check according to what policy are recruitments to BS 1-3 positions made locally without applicable quota.

Chaired by Senator Farooq Hamid Naek, the meeting was attended amongst others by Senator Dilawar Khan, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Dr. Mohsin Aziz, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Quratulain Marri, Senator Dr Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Mir Kabir Muhammad Shahi and senior officers from the Ministry Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs along with all concerned.