ISLAMABAD: Calling for civilian supremacy, the JUI-F’s parliamentary leader in the Senate on Friday called for sending the armed forces “back to barracks”.

Taking part in the discussion on the Finance Bill 2024-25 in the Senate, Maulana Attaur Rehman said the civilian government was helpless and all key decisions on foreign policy, internal security and economy were being taken by someone else.

“They cannot even transfer a commissioner and deputy commissioner without permission,” he remarked.

Terming the general elections 2024 a fraud, the JUI-F leader said that lists of those to be declared winners had been handed over to respective authorities two days before the polls.

PML-N legislator deplores lack of policy consistency; PPP lawmaker rails against GST on newsprint

He said the people were brought to the parliament on the basis of pick and choose and it is not parliament that represents the people.

He also regretted that Senate elections were yet to be conducted and the upper house continues to be incomplete, while the Senate standing committees had been distributed.

“Where are we heading when we are not demanding Senate elections in KP,” he asked.

He said that nobody agreed to lend money to Pakistan unless a general is part of the official delegation as they know with whom real power rests with in Pakistan.

He also voiced concern over the forces’ role in commercial and business activities.

Seven ministers in as many years

PML-N Senator Saadia Abbasi speaking on her turn said that since 2018, the country has had seven finance ministers. She questioned how there would be consistency in policies of a country where seven finance ministers served over the last six years.

“Some of these finance ministers were called blue-eyed boys of IMF and some were not, but none of them could sustain his position,” she said.

Ms Abbasi emphasised that all of them had a “myopic” view that the people didn’t pay taxes, hence the country was not progressing. As a result, they burdened the people by imposing more taxes, she added.

She said that none of these finance ministers ever gave a programme for formulating policies that could take the country out of its innumerable problems and could have meaningful impact on the lives of the people.

She said that the auditor general office in its recent report has pointed out wasteful expenditures, non-compliance with the rule of law, non-adherence to rules and ad hocism as the main problems of the country’s governance.

She questioned that why no government took notice of these issues, adding that the vision of all finance ministers was regressive taxation and burdening people with import duties, higher sales taxes, and levies on all utilities but they never talked about controlling expenditures or increasing revenues.

Call for withdrawing GST on newsprint

PPP’s Sarmad Ali said that indeed there was a massive gap between available resources and problems in the country. He noted there had always been just rhetoric that allocation for education should be 4 per cent of the GDP, but GST had been proposed in the budget on pencils, colour pencils, erasers, sharpeners, calculators and exercise books.

“We just have no idea what is to be achieved by taxing such educational instruments, used by children. This would also increase financial hardships of parents,” he said and pointed out that 10 per cent GST had been proposed on newsprint at a time when newspapers were already struggling despite being considered so effective in checking fake news and disinformation.

Newspapers, he said, were so handy in ensuring the people’s right to know and safeguarding democratic values, promoting democracy and transparency. He called for withdrawal of GST on newsprint, which has already been called death knell for newspapers.

He said the government should withdraw 10 per cent General Sales Tax on import of newsprint, saying this is important for survival of newspapers.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2024

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