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Finance Bill 2017-18 Presented in Senate Today

Islamabad (June 8, 2017): The Senate resumed its session in Islamabad on Thursday with Presiding Officer Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi in the chair.

Recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Finance Bill 2017-18 were presented before the House.

The recommendations were presented by Chairman of the Standing Committee Saleem Mandviwala.

In their recommendations, the Senators have suggested the government to enhance the salaries and pensions of government employees by twenty percent. They have also proposed to enhance the house rent ceiling of the employees. They proposed that the limit of loan of fifty thousand rupees for farmers be increased upto two hundred and fifty thousand rupees. They suggested that the sales tax be reduced from seventeen to ten percent on all items to provide relief to the common man.

The Senators recommended that the profit on National Savings Certificates, Special Savings Certificates, Bahbood and Pensioners Accounts should be raised by two percent to benefit old age pensioners and widows.

The Senate was informed today that the Ministry of Interior has taken notice of the activities of banned outfits on the social media.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Karim Ahmad Khawaja and others, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab told the House that FIA has been tasked to carry out investigation into the matter.

He regretted that certain elements on the social media are trying to sow the seed of hatred and we will have to confront them at all costs.

He said all the security agencies and NACTA are working in coordination and trying to develop a mechanism to check the activities of the proscribed outfits.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that the six percent growth target set for the next fiscal year is realistic and achievable.

Winding up discussion on Budget 2017-18 in Senate today, he said the country witnessed 5.3 percent growth rate during the current fiscal year due to the prudent economic policies of the government. He said the economy size has reached three hundred billion dollars.

The Minister said the government is making utmost efforts to finalize the next NFC Award at the earliest. He, however, rejected the impression that presenting the budget without the new NFC is unconstitutional. He said there is no nexus between the NFC and the budget. He said a meeting with the provincial Chief Ministers will soon be held on the matter. He said the provincial governments will have to demonstrate magnanimity and open heartedness for giving share to Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA from the NFC.

Ishaq Dar assured to fully accommodate the doable and practical recommendations given by the Upper House on the Finance Bill, 2017-18. He reminded that forty percent of their recommendations were incorporated in the budget of 2015-16 and eighty percent in the year 2016-17. This, he said, shows the flexibility on the part of the government.

Earlier, participating in the debate, Talha Mahmood said the private sector should be fully facilitated and encouraged in order to bolster exports and generate employment opportunities. He also expressed concerns over the increasing debt of the country. He said hydel resources should be exploited to produce cheap electricity.

Momin Khan Afridi said that the terrorism has badly affected the tribal areas and efforts should be expedited for the reconstruction of the area. He said FATA should be given five percent share in the NFC.

Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel emphasized the need for promotion of harmony and unity amongst the federating units.

Ishaq Dar said that revenue collection has increased by eighty percent over the last four years. He said it is because of the financial discipline that we have managed to allocate one trillion rupees for the development expenditures in which infrastructure and energy sectors have been given special emphasis. He said electricity generation has improved significantly and the government has envisaged projects keeping in view the future requirements of the country.

The Minister said the political parties should bury petty differences and sit together to formulate a Charter of Economy.

The Senate today passed a unanimous resolution strongly condemning the recent act of terrorism in Iran.

The resolution moved by Karim Ahmad Khawaja described the act as the crime against humanity.

The resolution said that the attack on the Iranian Parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini exposes the threat faced by Iran and other regional countries at the hands of terrorists. The resolution expressed solidarity with the people and the Parliament of Iran and said Pakistan stands united in the fight against terrorism.

The House will now meet tomorrow morning at 10:30.

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