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National Assembly passes Finance Bill 2018-19

National Assembly passes Finance Bill 2018-19

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday passed the Finance Bill 2018-19 after incorporating proposals given by lawmakers, reported Radio Pakistan.

The NA passed the budget through a voice vote amid slogans by the opposition members.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail expressed his gratitude over the passage of the budget and termed it a step towards economic stability.

He said that the Federal Board of Revenue would have the powers to investigate anyone receiving more than Rs10 million in foreign remittances. The sender, he said, would also have to disclose the source of his income.

The minister said that only tax filers would be allowed to open and maintain foreign currency accounts in the country.

On April 28, amid ruckus and a walkout by the opposition, Ismail announced Rs5.247 trillion inflationary budget, as its proposed taxation measures outweigh the relief offered to industrialists, agriculturists and salaried persons ahead of elections.

The Rs5.247 trillion budget is Rs493 billion or 10.3 per cent higher than the outgoing fiscal year’s original budget.

The key reason behind 10 per cent increase was that Ismail tried to present a relatively realistic picture of expenditures, unlike his predecessor Ishaq Dar who always understated expenditures at time of budget.

There is a Rs1.9 trillion hole in the budget, which is equal to 4.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and will be filled by taking foreign and domestic loans.

A closer look at the budget documents, including the Finance Bill 2018, reveals that contrary to what most people expected, the newly appointed Finance Minister Dr Ismail has not lost sight of the economic realities while presenting his first and incumbent outgoing regime’s sixth budget.

Because of this reason, the government took measures, which would generate revenues that will be higher than the losses due to tax breaks. The government also announced only 10 per cent raise in the salaries of the employees, which is also normal.

The government also backtracked from its earlier announcement of increasing income tax exemption threshold from Rs400,000 to Rs1.2 million. It levied very nominal tax of Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 per annum on people earning from Rs400,000 to Rs1.2 million.

During a budget debate in the house on Thursday, Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah had said that the opposition had rejected the budget proposals, especially the tax amnesty scheme and petroleum levy which, according to him, would play havoc in the country once the budget was passed by the National Assembly.

Shah and another Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Naveed Qamar termed the amnesty scheme a “move to facilitate the already rich people and further suppress the poor”.

“If relief is given to tax evaders, what crime has been committed by the taxpayers who have not been facilitated in the budget,” Shah said.

Sahibzada Tariq Ullah of the Jamaat-i-Islami, Sarwar Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Syed Ali Raza Abidi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had also criticised the budget.