LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to immediately suspend collection of fixed sales tax through electricity bills from small traders and retailers, and devise a new roadmap in consultation with traders for the purpose.
He issued these directions while chairing a meeting to review the electricity rates and fixed sales tax collection through electricity bills here on Saturday. “An inquiry must be conducted into the levy of increased sales tax ratio on shopkeepers/ retailers in the electricity bills other than the agreed one,” he said.
The PM said representatives of traders should be taken on board while making any decision on tax collection through electricity bills.
The development comes after the government decided to withdraw a fixed tax regime on electricity bills for one year on August 4. The breakthrough was achieved after three days of talks between the government and traders community protesting against the levy since July 1.
“The decision was taken as per the demands of traders community, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PMLN leaders’ instructions,” Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had said after a meeting with them in Islamabad.
Reiterating his commitment to take all-possible measures for financial security of the poor, PM Shehbaz Sharif directed all relevant ministries and authorities to immediately finalise an effective mechanism to reduce electricity rates to provide relief to people.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Energy Engineer Khurram Dastagir, Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik, FBR chairman, relevant federal secretaries and other senior officials.
Receiving tax from traders via their electricity bill was one of the clauses approved by the National Assembly in the Finance Bill 2022 on July 29, prompting the community to protest over the tweaks.
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif dissolved the Pakistan Medical Commission, constituted by the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, on corruption charges.
According to an announcement issued by the federal government, PM Shehbaz dissolved the PMC and suspended all its officials. The prime minister had decided in principle that the commission’s affairs would be investigated after receiving reports about the corruption allegedly committed by them. The new members would be selected by PM Shehbaz Sharif, official sources said.
However, according to an announcement, the decision would have no impact on MDCAT and other medical exams by the PMC in the coming days. The MDCAT tests would be taken according to the schedule and no changes would be made in the test dates.
It should be noted that the federal government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had abolished the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and created the PMC in 2020.
Many students and doctors, including the Young Doctors Association, had recorded protest against the alleged corruption by the PMC president, vice president and other authorities.
Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel had demanded the federal government to dissolve the PMC and restore the PMDC a few weeks ago.
M Waqar Bhatti adds: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has removed the president and vice president of Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) by withdrawing the nominations of all members of the Medical and Dental Council of PMC through a notification, said officials in the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Saturday.There were rumours regarding establishment of an interim Medical and Dental Council comprising seven new members in addition to surgeon general of Pakistan armed forces and federal secretary health to run the affairs of the health regulatory authority of Pakistan, but it could not be confirmed. “In exercise of powers conferred by...Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020, the nominating/appointing authority, i.e. Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is pleased to withdraw the nominations of all members of the Medical and Dental Council notified on September 25, 2020 with immediate effect,” a notification dated August 19 said.
As per the Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020, the Medical and Dental Council of PMC is nominated by the prime minister as the chairman of the commission and following these nominations, council members elect their president and vice president. The removal of the current PMC leadership, including its council members, was on the cards since the coalition government took over as one of the main allies of the government, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was not satisfied with the actions of the PMC leadership, especially pass percentage of MDCAT, National Licensing Exam (NLE) and ‘inflexible’ policies of the PMC leadership.
PMC President Dr Arshad Taqi said he was not officially communicated as Saturday was a holiday and they did not receive any notification on Friday. He added that it was “the prime minister’s right” to remove the PMC leadership by de-notifying the Medical and Dental Council and appoint new council members as per the PMC Act 2020.
“Similarly, I’m not aware if the names of new council members have been notified or not. There is a summary circulating on social media with some names as new members of the Medical and Dental Council of PMC. Whether there is a notification issued in this regard is unknown,” Taqi, now the former president of the PMC, told The News.
The former PMC president maintained that he felt relieved when he learnt unofficially about his removal but added that he was also concerned about policies for the steps they took for improving the medical education in the country. “We had just started the process of accreditation with the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) as well as some other international accrediting bodies. The process had to take 12-18 months. Now with a new leadership and new policies, this may get delayed,” he feared.
There were mixed reactions on the removal of the current PMC leadership as heads and owners of some private medical colleges termed it a good decision while senior health professionals and educationists were apprehensive, fearing that standards of medical education might deteriorate in the country.
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