NA body on Finance meets

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ISLAMABAD, Feb 13 (APP): The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance Thursday given detail briefing additional secretary ministry of finance and informed that the federal government had disbursed Rs 1501 billion to all the four provinces out of total size of divisible pool worth Rs 2,596 billion available with the government by end January.

The meeting which met here at Parliament house with MNA Faiz Ullah in chair further informed that under the divisible pool 57.5 percent share goes to the provinces while the rest 42.5 percent is held by the federal government.

Giving details of the disbursements, additional secretary ministry of finance informed the committee that Rs 746 billion have been transferred to Punjab, Rs 254 billion to Sindh, Rs 236 billion to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Rs 164 billion have been transferred to the Balochistan province.

He informed that the federal government has also made state transfers worth Rs 64.9 billion out of total allocated funds of Rs 100 billion for the year 2019-20.

Out of these transfers, Punjab received Rs 4.8 billion out of allocated Rs 7.4 billion, Sindh received Rs 34.3 billion so far out of Rs 53.9 billion, KP obtained Rs 16.4 billion out of Rs 25.6 billion and Balochistan received Rs 8.7 billion out of Rs 13.7 billion.

The provinces receive their due share of funds under state transfers which include royalty on Crude Oil, royalty on Natural Gas, Gas Development Surcharge and Excise Duty on Natural Gas.

The finance ministry additional secretary further informed that the government would not surpass the budget deficit target of 7.5 percent and in order to meet the extra expenditures, the government had multiple options to manage the additional funds.

However, he said that as per direction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Prime Minister, the government wanted to fully utilize the development budget of Rs 701 billion allocated under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20.

He hoped that the debt servicing would not exceed the budget estimations.

Briefing the details about expenditures of running of civil government, the meeting was informed that Rs 440 billion were allocated in the budget out of which Rs 220 billion had been spent in first 7 months of current fiscal year, which meant that these expenditures were totally in control.

Meanwhile Acting Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Seema Shakeel told the committee that so far 12,984 exporters had claimed their refunds worth Rs 54 billion out of which Rs 29 billion had already been issued.

MNA Qaiser Ahmed Shaikh said the FBR was going slow against its tall claims of settling down the refund claims within 72 hours, however, it was still processing refunds of December.

Chairman Faiz Ullah pointed out that on real ground, the businessmen were not satisfied with the new system of FBR.

A representative of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) warned that if their demands were not met in two weeks, all the exporters would go on strike after which there would be no exports and trade activities in the city.

He said their basic demands were the issues regarding the prices of electricity and gas.

Chairman of the Committee said that the committee was arranging a meeting of high level government authorities including Power Minister Omer Ayub Khan with the exporters to sort out the problem.

On the issue of condition of showing CNIC for businessmen, Chairman All Pakistan Power Looms Association Waheed Khan said this issue was denting trade activities.

Member Policy FBR, Dr Hamid said during first seven months of current fiscal year, the government had not put pressure in this regard, however from first of current month, the condition had been put in with full force but despite that there was no slow down of trade activities during this period.

He said if the turnover of a businessman was being showed in thousands before the condition while it turns to millions after showing the CNIC then its mean they were concealing their actual turnover.

He offered that if the exporters think that tax rate was high then the FBR was ready to talk in this regard, however condition of CNIC would not be compromised.

Ayesha Ghous proposed that in order to sort out the problems of tax related issues of exporters, a sub-committee should be formed.

Faiz Ullah said a sub-committee was already in place and under the law no other sub-committee could be formed.

However, he decided to suspend the already established committee and form a sub-committee headed by Dr Ramesh Kumar with Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha and Dr Nafeesa Shah as its members.

The committee would discuss in details the tax related issues with the concerned stakeholders and finalize its recommendations within two weeks time.

Faiz Ullah said no doubt FBR officials were facing heavy pressure to meet the tax targets, but issues of businessmen were also genuine and they should be resolved.

APP/ Saeeda /Farooq