The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance was held here at Parliament House under the chairmanship of Chairman Committee Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood. The issue of charges on transactions of funds by banks was discussed in the meeting of the standing committee. Senator Saleem Mandviwala said that the proposal to transfer money from banks was rejected in the budget. Charges have been levied on transactions above 25,000. Deputy Governor State Bank underlined that Charges of 0.1% or Rs. 200 were levied on transactions above Rs. 25,000 or whichever is less. The Deputy Governor SBP said that 82 per cent of the transactions took place in July without any charges. Only 18 per cent of the people were charged on the transaction. Chairman Committee Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood objected to the levied charges on the transaction and recommended that either the limit of this amount should be increased to Rs 50,000 or it should be abolished at once. These charges are not justified, he added. The Chairman Standing Committee, with the consent of the members, rejected the charges on the transaction by the Central Bank and directed the SBP to submit a report to the committee within a month. Chairman Committee Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood said
that if the instructions of the committee are not followed, then the problems may increase.
The committee received a comprehensive briefing from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Security and exchange commission of Pakistan (SECP) on the Financial reporting issue of HASCOL. The committee was informed that in 2019, the liabilities increased from Rs.24 billion to Rs. Forty-four billion as compared to 2018. The company was constantly investing in its new projects. The HASCOL company went to a massive loss from profit in a few months. A company which was operating with a profit of 956 million suddenly went to an enormous loss of Rs.116 billion, an official of SECP apprised the committee. SECP officials told the committee that the SECP had issued its instructions to the company.Two investigations are underway against HASCOL, which will be completed in three months. Criminal or civil proceedings against the company will be done under the SECP Act. Senator Saleem Mandviwala said that it seems that the fraud had been planned for years, and a forensic audit should be conducted. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that such fraud is not possible if the auditing companies fulfil their responsibilities in a true sense. Senator Musaddiq Masood Malik asked why the SECP did not take action as the company had taken illegal steps on such a large scale. The stock exchange should protect the capital of the shareholders. The standing committee was directed to conduct a forensic audit of the HASCOL company. Chairman Committee, Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood, in consultation with the Senators, gave suggestions regarding forensic audit of the company, auditors, penalties, and steps to be taken to empower the company.
The Chairman Committee sought the statements of 18 banks from the SBP in three weeks. The Chairman Committee said that a list of those who have given guarantees to these banks should also be provided.
The issue of the bank account of politically exposed persons was raised with SBP in the standing committee. Senator Musaddiq Masood Malik asked SBP to submit a report of those regarding money laundering, terror financing. He stressed that the committee should know how many bureaucrats, politicians, and other entities are involved in it. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that this issue has been going on for many years and is a source of humiliation for all of us. Chairman Committee Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood gave the SBP officials one month to resolve the issue. The Chairman Committee said that SBP should play its role in this matter. The committee members said that it takes months for politicians to open an account, and many questions are asked when it comes to opening an account. The Deputy Governor SBP said that it is not only for politicians, Officers above grade 20 are also on the list. The standing committee also sought details of cases against politically exposed persons.
The issue of hacking FBR data was also reviewed in the meeting of the standing committee. The Chairman Committee sought a reply from the FBR within three days regarding the data hacking. The Standing Committee directed the Senate Secretariat to write a letter to the Chairman FBR in this regard.
Detailed discussion on the Resolution moved by Senator Faisal Sabzwari in the House "Recommending the government to give special tax exemption to the small traders and salaried class of Karachi and Hyderabad". There should be a one-year exemption, suggested Senator Faisla Saleem and Senator Kamil Ali Agha. Senator Dilawar suggested one-time relief, while Senator Musaddiq Masood Malik said relief should be given to those earning less than rupees one lakh. The committee chairman called for a report from the FBR on the total exposure and how many people were benefiting from the scheme within 15 days and recessed the agenda till the next meeting.
Acting Auditor General of Pakistan Ghulam Muhammad Memon, while briefing the committee, said that the Auditor General audits all the institutions of Pakistan's government and audits the aid received from abroad. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that the Auditor General had given the most authoritative report on revolving credit. Chairman Committee Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood asked the Acting Auditor General which government agencies do not conduct audits with the Auditor General. The Acting AGP apprised the committee that OGRA, NEPRA, PTA, NADRA, IRSA, and provincial government banks do not audit AGP. According to the law, the National Bank has to deposit the government's money in the SBP within a day. The Chairman Committee sought details of those entities which do not audit with AGP. The Acting Auditor-General informed the committee that AGP had completed its audit work despite the pandemic, and 401 audit reports of last year have been issued. He said that AGP had recovered Rs. 409 billion this year. Rs.782 billion has been recovered in the previous five years, while 26,000 audit Paras have not been decided yet. The committee chairman said that a report should be submitted to the committee in six months regarding the pending paras.
Senator Sadia Abbasi, Senator Musaddiq Malik, Senator Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Senator Dilawar Khan, Senator Saleem Madviwala, Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar and Senator Faisal Saleem attended the meeting. Finance Ministry officials, Chairman FBR , Acting Auditor General of Pakistan, Deputy Governor SBP and other senior officials also participated in today's meeting.