ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday showed displeasure over the payment of refunds to taxpayers while directing the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to share details on Thursday.
The meeting, chaired by MNA Faiz Ullah, gave a one-day deadline to Member FBR Inland Revenue Operation Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed to present details of refund payments and the pending amounts so far. Dr. Ahmed told the committee that the FBR has released an amount of Rs174.8 billion refunds during the outgoing fiscal year (2019-20). The board has also paid Rs100bn additional refunds under the prime minister package, he added.
On the payment claims, MNA Naveed Qamar intervened and asked Dr. Ahmed to share the actual volume of total refunds. He said the committee should also be briefed over the stuck amount and the payment procedures.
MNA Hina Rabbani Khar said that the total stuck refund amount is Rs600bn. The FBR should give a true picture of pending refunds to the committee, she added.
MNA Ayesha Ghous Pasha also blamed the FBR for giving refunds to the elite while others were still waiting for their payments. The committee chairman seconded the observation of the MNAs and asked top FBR officials to come up with details.
Lawmakers accuse FBR of facilitating elite
The NA committee recommended to the government that Javed Ghani should continue for the smooth and effective functioning of the FBR as regular chairman. The government recently gave additional charge of chairman FBR to Mr Ghani for a period of three months.
President, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd. (ZTBL) Shahbaz Jameel briefed the committee about the situational analysis and suggestions for the way forward of the bank. He said the Finance Division has constituted an Advisory Committee on May 15 for the restructuring of ZTBL. Shaukat Tareen, Zubair Soomro, and Atif Bokhari are the members of the committee.
MNA Ahsan Iqbal said there was no need for the constitution of a committee at a time when locust and coronavirus have badly damaged the agriculture sector of the country. He said ZTBL should focus on providing loans at lower rates to help farmers.
On the occasion, Khar said that in November 2019 the committee gave a two weeks deadline to ZTBL for the formulation of board of directors (BoD) but the same tasked was not carried out despite a lapse of seven months.
The committee expressed its displeasure on the delay for the formulation of BoD and directed Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch for apprising the committee in this regard on Thursday.
The committee also expressed its concern over less disbursement of agriculture loans to the farmers by the ZTBL as compared to previous years. The committee members were of the view that the government should analyse the current situation before carrying reforms in the Bank.
The committee also took notice of purchase of pulses at higher prices and directed the managing director of Utility Stores Corporation to appear before the committee on Thursday personally.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2020