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Finance committee rejects proposal of disconnecting mobile, electricity, gas connections of non-filers

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Thursday rejected a proposal to disconnect mobile, electricity and gas connections of non-filers.

The meeting of the committee was held under the chair of Senator Talha Mahmood at parliament house which discussed the third Tax Amendment Act presented by FBR in detail.

As per details, the Upper House panel not only turned down the proposal of disconnecting mobile, electricity and gas connections of non-filers but also rejected the proposal of providing taxpayer information to NAB.

The chairman committee said that the move would be cruel as such a law is a violation of basic human rights.

In addition, the Senate committee also rejected the proposal to impose a tax above a Rs20,000 electricity bill as well as the proposal of withdrawing sales tax on the import of meltable scraps.

The Chairman committee questioned who submitted the proposal to which Senator Musadiq Malik answered that it was steel mill owners.

On the other hand, the Upper House panel approved proposals with regard to imposing a tax on apples imported from Afghanistan, extending a tax waiver on auto-disable syringes to December 31, abolishing sales tax on imports at PSO terminals, getting 16 per cent instead of 17pc sales tax from tier-1 retailers through debit or credit card purchasing, and a zero-rated regime for packed milk.

It also approved a 5pc tax on the import of electric vehicles and remittance above Rs5 million sent through banks and exchange companies.

Furthermore, the committee also discussed the issue being faced by the Iraqi Embassy in managing a $10 million account with Habib Bank Limited (HBL) as per the policy of SBP.

While deliberating on the issue, the meeting took serious notice of the absence of the SBP Governor Reza Baqir. The chairman committee said that he can order the police to arrest or present the SBP governor in the committee if he does not turn up himself.

Mandviwala said that Baqir did not appear in the last three meetings of the committee whereas the Iraqi ambassador has appeared and wanted that a privilege motion moved against the SBP governor.

The chairman of the committee said that the country faced insults as the embassy was dealing in dollars and if anything happened to their money, an FIR would be filed against the SBP governor.

The meeting was informed that HBL, during the month of June 2021, asked the State Bank of Pakistan (Exchange Policy Department) to allow its client, the Embassy of Iraq, for monthly transfer of salaries of $100,000 to FCY accounts of foreign national employees. Besides, it also requested to allow monthly withdrawal of $100,000 for travelling abroad purposes and allow receiving and retaining cash deposits up to $1,000,000 on monthly basis in the embassy’s FCY account on account of visa fees, document attestation charges, and consular service fees, in form of foreign currency from respective applicants.

The meeting was in writing informed that with respect to the above-mentioned requests, SBP allowed HBL for monthly transfer of FCY for payment of salaries only to their foreign national employees and monthly cash withdrawal on account of travelling abroad purposes (funds to be used out of Pakistan) whereas, with respect to retaining cash deposit, HBL was advised that there is already a mechanism in place whereby foreign embassies and consulates operating in Pakistan collect visa fee in Pakistani rupee accounts.

Subsequently, the fee collected may be repatriated to respective home countries after seeking approval from the Foreign Exchange Operations Department (FEOD), SBP-Banking Services Corporation through their authorised dealers.

However, HBL has requested SBP to reconsider the request of the Iraq Embassy.

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