ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to present a full-year budget despite calls for a short-term budget from the opposition parties, State Minister for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said on Tuesday.
Talking to the media after a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Mr Afzal said the demand for a four-month budget was unprecedented and unwarranted and described it as ‘a mere political stunt’.
“Under such circumstances it is a practice the world over that incoming governments follow the budget prepared by the outgoing government,” he said.
Mr Afzal said that the government plans to bring and approve the ‘amnesty scheme’ launched recently through the Finance Bill despite the opposition to it.
“Those opposing it have the right to express their point of view but we will bring it with the budget,” he said, adding that budget approval is not required from the Senate.
The new Senate standing committee held its first meeting under the chair of Senator Farooq Naek. It was attended by fresh members of the upper house including Senator Musadik Malik, Senator Dilawar Khan, Senator Muhammad Akram of National Party, Senator Khanzada Khan of PPP and independent Senator Aurangzeb Khan.
The amendments to four laws – Voluntary Declaration Domestic Assets Bill, 2018; Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Bill, 2018; Income Tax Ordinance, 2001; and Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 – were discussed in the meeting.
The amendments to these laws related to the amnesty scheme were been turned down by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance by a majority vote the other day, while massive amendments were recommended to the said laws at the Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Tuesday.
The committee witnessed a heated debate between Senator Mohsin Aziz of PTI who strongly opposed the amnesty scheme and faced standoff from Senators Musadik Malik and Ayesha Raza.
However, former chairman of the committee and deputy chairman of the upper house Senator Saleem Mandviwalla helped resolve the argument.
The committee, with a majority vote, approved several amendments in the proposed amnesty scheme.
Senator Mandviwalla had serious reservations over the amendments in Protection of Economic Reforms Act (PERA),1992 on the grounds that this law was never part of the money bill.
However, after extensive discussions, Senator Mandviwalla agreed to the point of view of the Ministry of Finance.
The amendment in PERA, 1992 prohibits depositing cash in foreign currency accounts by a non-filer.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018