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NA sesson underway on ‘mini-budget’ amid Opposition ruckus, protest

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly session is currently underway for the approval of the supplementary finance bill — termed by the Opposition as a “mini-budget” — amid protest and reservations against the bill from Opposition parties.

The approval of the supplementary finance bill is necessary to ensure Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFE) gets cleared by the IMF’s Executive Board, which is scheduled to meet later this month to decide the disbursement of a $1-billion tranche.

It is pertinent to mention here that on Tuesday, the NA had formally begun a general debate on the mini-budget which saw the coalition partners in the ruling alliance under the PTI joining their voices with the Opposition over possible implications of the new taxation measures.

In the amended bill, the government rolled back its plan to impose additional sales taxes on children’s formula milk, bread, and small cars. It also withdrew the proposal to impose taxes on laptops and computers.

MQM confused about mini-budget

The government’s alliance, MQM-Pakistan (MQM-P), seems confused regarding supporting the incumbent government on the supplementary finance bill.

Per reports, MQM has not decided yet whether it is going to stand with the PTI-led government or against it with regards to the approval of the mini-budget in the National Assembly.

However, MQM-P had already expressed serious concerns on the supplement bill and had submitted an eleven-point agenda based on recommendations in the NA, a copy of which was also sent to the finance minister.

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Senate panel approves recommendations on mini-budget

Earlier this week, the Senate approved the recommendations on the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021.

Presenting the final report related to the bill, Standing Committee on Finance Chairman Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood had highlighted that the Opposition did not raise any objections to the bill.

Terming the “mini-budget” an “IMF budget”, Mahmood said that the supplementary finance bill will bring a tsunami of inflation in the country.

He added that this is not just an Rs343 billion budget it is far more than that, adding that the finance bill will have a “negative impact on the common man.

On December 30, Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin presented the much-awaited supplementary finance bill — termed by the Opposition as a “mini-budget” — in the National Assembly.

According to the finance ministry’s proposal, the government will impose a tax on approximately 150 goods at a rate of 17%. Therefore, goods that were currently either completely exempt from General Sales Tax (GST) or being taxed at 5% to 12% rates would now be taxed at 17%.

More to follow.

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