Senators take on govt over unbridled corruption, GST | Pakistan Today

Senators take on govt over unbridled corruption, GST

ISLAMABAD: As Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday told Senate that there was no other option but to implement the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the General Sales Tax (GST), the senators lambasted the government for not controlling corruption in its ranks and taxing the poor instead.
Rejecting the finance minister’s sugar-quoted arguments in favour of the GST, the senators termed the new tax ‘suicidal’ for the already over-burdened people and asked the government to first put its own house in order by taking at least symbolic austerity measures.
Leader of Opposition in Senate Wasim Sajjad said that the finance minister was trying to defend a thing which was indefensible. He said the GST was being imposed on the dictation of the IMF. “The IMF has only one patent remedy for every country as it advises all of its client countries to impose more taxes,” he said, adding that GST would bring more 25 percent inflation in the existing rate.
Selected imposition: Sajjad said the GST should not be imposed across the board, rather only identified luxury items should fall under its purview. He asked the government to check profligacy and reduce cabinet size instead of putting more burden on the poverty-stricken masses.
Taking part in the debate, Senator Tariq Azim said that the government should curb corruption in the country to meet fiscal challenges. He stressed upon the need of a ‘documented economy’ where every shopkeeper should give a receipt on the sale of goods.
Senator Zafar Ali Shah of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said the coalition partners of the Pakistan People’s Party were not supporting the government on GST.
“There are reports of Rs 323 billion corruption in the Federal Board of Revenue. The government should plug these holes instead of imposing new taxes on the masses,” he said.
He said it was strange that Pakistan’s governments, either military or democratic, could not appoint their own finance ministers. “Our finance ministers are called recovery officers of IMF,” he said.
Objecting on Zafar’s comments, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the parliamentarians had the right to express their reservations and give recommendations over the GST bill, ‘but they should abstain from leveling personal accusations against a man who and whose family had served the country’.
Provincial subject: Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Senator Raza Rabbani said that after the passage of the 18th Amendment, parliament could not debate or pass GST bill as it was now a provincial subject. “First the provincial assemblies must pass the GST bill and also adopt a resolution. It is only then that the federation could enact it,” he said.
Speaking on points of order, ANP Senator Zahid Khan and Tahir Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) protested against the Pakistan People’s Party for not giving their parties representation in the parliamentary committee on the appointment of judges.

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