The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs was held on Friday. Chaired by Senator Farooq H. Naek, the meeting was attended by Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Mohsin Aziz, Senator Dilawar Khan, Senator Khanzada Khan, Senator Aurangzeb Khan and senior officers from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Ministry of Finance. Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Fida Muhammad and Senator Shamim Afridi, were specially invited for their valuable input regarding issues that came under discussion with regards to the people of FATA/PATA and Malakand Division.
The meeting commenced with consideration of a point of public importance raised by Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi regarding utilization of Zakat Funds in the education and health sectors and details that revealed disbursement of those funds to FATA. However, the matter was deferred since Secretary Ministry of Finance was not present. The Committee took strict notice of this matter.
While discussing the issue of exemption to pensioners from filing tax returns on the public petition of Major (R) Ghulam Abbas, the Committee questioned Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Member IR Policy FBR of the circumstances under which pensioners are taxed. He revealed that under FBR rules pensioners are not taxed unless they possess taxable movable or immovable property; or if they accept other employment after retirement. He further stated that the petitioner was not included in the tax list. Chairman Committee, showed satisfaction and disposed off the petition; issuing directions for the petitioner to be informed of the decision.
While discussing modalities of the implementation of Tax Relief Regimes announced by the Government as promised during the passage of FATA, PATA and Malakand region merger Bill/25th Constitutional Amendment, the members of the Committee asserted that in order to facilitate this war ravaged region it was imperative that the government kept its commitment of giving tax exemptions to commercial enterprises in FATA/PATA and Malakand Division for a minimum of five years. They stressed that all exemptions given in Article 247 of the Constitution be fully implemented.
While agreeing that the region would benefit from tax concessions, Senator Mohsin Aziz stressed the need for ensuring that this move promoted value addition and was labour intensive. He also stressed the need for concessional loans that would encourage the establishment of new enterprises. He also asserted the need to discourage the growth of conversion industries to benefit residents of the area.
Senator Fida Muhammad recommended that a nine-member committee be formed to take up the issue of tax exemptions with the Ministry of Law and Justice so that residents of FATA/PATA and Malakand Division benefit from it.
Chairman Committee, Senator Naek directed the Committee to meet on 29th June, 2018 and instructed Dr. Iqbal, to coordinate with the Ministry of Law and Justice, ECC and Cabinet Division to provide complete details regarding the issue. He asserted that no notification be issued unless this problem is resolved.