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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday approved a law aimed at making amendments to the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (FRDL) Act-2005.

Committee Chairman Saleem Mandviwala said as committee was opposed to making amendments to the FRDL Act-2005 through Finance Bill-2016, the government has agreed to bring these amendments in the form of a regular bill. He, however, stated that the government requested to process it quickly.

Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood stated that after the approval of the amended Act, IMF loan will also be a part of the total public debt.

Waqar Masood said the purpose of the amendments is to broaden the definition of deficit reduction.

The committee was informed that the government aims to bring down public debt-to-GDP ratio to 50pc over 15 years from 2018-19 to 2032-33 to reinforce fiscal consolidation process and help manage debt portfolio efficiently and reduce associated risks. The budget recommendations drafted by the committee were adopted by the Senate and forwarded to the National Assembly.

The key recommendations among 139 submitted include: increase in pay and pensions of government employees by 15pc; all the items in the Federal Legislative list part –II in future be approved by the Council of Common Interest (CCI) instead of the cabinet as envisaged in the Constitution after the 18th Amendment; no supplementary grant involving expenditure over and above 5pc of the amount sanctioned in the budget is made without prior approval of the parliament.

It also recommended that mid-year budget review may be made mandatory in the month of February, a single energy ministry be created by merging all ministries dealing with the subject, a system may be evolved to whiten and regularise the black money, incentives for investors. Population census must be conducted besides allocating funds for it. The minimum wage of Rs14,000 should be implemented. The National Finance Commission (NFC) Award be declared quickly and GST be rationalised to 12pc.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2016