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March 12, 2020

Senate body rejects ‘Tax Laws (Amend) Bill 2019’

Islamabad

March 12, 2020

Islamabad : The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenues on Tuesday unanimously rejected Tax Laws (First Amendment) Bill 2019, declaring that the remission of taxes could not be treated as part of money bill.

The Panel of Upper House of Parliament has outrightly rejected the bill for extending the scope of Customs Duty exemption available to concession agreement to China Overseas Port Holding Company, Gwadar International Terminals, Gwadar Marine Services Limited and Gwadar Free Zone as well as their contractors and sub-contractors for period of 40 years. Earlier, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance had rejected Tax Laws (second amendment) bill last month with majority on the same ground that fines and penalties under amendments into tax laws could not be declared as money bill.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenues met under the chairmanship of Senator Farooq H Naek here at the Parliament House in which the members belonging to ruling PTI and its allies including Senator Mohsin Aziz from PTI, Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar from Balochstan Awami Party and Senator Ateeq Sheikh from MQM Pakistan were also present during the proceedings of the committee but the panel unanimously rejected the Tax Laws (amendment) bill but none of them opposed this rejection. At one point the FBR member informed the committee that the concerned parties of concession agreement might opt for arbitration if this amendment was not passed by the Parliament.

The meeting kick-started whereby Chairman of the Committee Senator Farooq H Naek explained definition of remission and exemption and stated that such amendments could not be declared as part of money bill. First of all, he stated that the Minister and Secretary Finance as well as Chairperson FBR were not present in the meeting as usual. Secondly, he asked the FBR team that why you did not bring as separate bill as through money bill you made effort to bypass the Upper House of Parliament.

The FBR’s Members Custom Javed Ghani and Member Inland Revenue (IR) Policy Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar made all out efforts to convince the Parliamentarians that the exemptions in tax laws was the part of the money bill. When the committee unanimously rejected the bill, the FBR high-ups told media that it was prerogative of Speaker National Assembly to declare any bill as money bill or not and the Speaker National Assembly declared Tax Laws (Second amendment) bill as money bill yesterday so the NA Speaker would do the same thing and then through majority votes would pass the Tax Laws (First Amendment) Bill in the same manner.

Earlier, during proceedings of the meeting an interesting situation surfaced when Ministry of Law’s draftsman was asked to give viewpoint of Ministry of Law over the definition of remission and exemption but the concerned official of the Ministry stated that he did not know about difference in remission and exemption. The committee member Senator Mushahid Ullah said that the committee must express its displeasure in writing that why junior officer was sent out into parliamentary committee meeting who remained unable to give their input during the meeting.

Finally, the Senate panel rejected the bill in totality unanimously and the meeting ended because there was only one agenda item for convening this meeting.