ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to convene the National Assembly session on January 10 for holding a debate on the controversial finance supplementary bill, generally known as mini-budget, and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has already prepared a summary for this purpose.

This was stated by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan during an informal chat with Dawn here on Thursday.

Mr Awan said the assembly in its new session would take up recommendations of the Senate on the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 which Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had introduced in the National Assembly on December 30.

The PM’s adviser said the government would not let the opposition block legislation through disruptions. He, however, said the doors for negotiations on legislation were still open for the opposition.

The approval of the finance bill seeking to amend certain laws related to taxes and duties and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 is necessary to ensure Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility gets cleared by the IMF’s Executive Board which is scheduled to meet on January 12 to decide the disbursement of about $1bn tranche.

Earlier, NA Speaker Asad Qaider had declared that the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 would not be referred to the stan­ding committee and it would be debated in the house whereas he had sent the bill seeking to provide “operational and financial autonomy” to the State Bank to the house committee concerned for a report.

The government had laid the finance bill in the Senate on January 4 and Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had directed the house committee on finance to come up with its report within three days.

The opposition members, who had earlier announced that they would block the government’s move to present the bills with full force, in their speeches accused the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf of surrendering the country’s economic sovereignty through these bills which, they said, would cause more economic difficulties for the people of Pakistan who were already reeling under unprecedented price hike and unemployment.

Talking to reporters on January 3, Finance Minister Tarin had said the Senate could finalise its recommendations in four days and then the bill could be passed by the National Assembly. He, however, said there was no problem for the International Monetary Fund if the approval of the bill was delayed for a few days.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2022

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