June 20, 2019: Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Asad Umer on Thursday asked the government to review taxes imposed on edibles like sugar, cooking oil and small vehicles as these were directly linked with the common man.
Participating in the National Assembly budget debate, he suggested the government to withdraw taxes on these items, terming the increase ‘inappropriate.’
He said the government must look into the matter that why prices of sugar had been increasing.
Underlining the need to take more measures for welfare of the working class, he said there should be 10 to 15 percent increase in pension of retired employees registered with Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI). Besides, he said domestic and brick kiln workers should be registered with EOBI, adding statistics of the institution should also be reconciled.
Under the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme, he said, every year 50,000 units should be constructed for laborers to provide shelter to homeless people.
Asad Umer said agriculture sector was backbone of the national economy and regretted that Rs 400 per fertilizer bag was being charged by the companies on account of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDS), which was not deposited in the national exchequer. He was of the view that price of per fertilizer bag should be decreased by Rs 400 to facilitate farmers community.
He also asked the government to reconsider zero-rated tax announced for textile sector as it could cause liquidity crisis and shatter confidence of investors.
He said there should be exemption on minimum-tax for new investments pouring in diverse fields aimed at encouraging investors.
Sharing some details of negotiations and meetings with International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, he held being Finance Minister, Asad Umer said there were five basic points on which his team had resisted.
Elaborating, he said, Pakistani team was not in favor of free-float of exchange rate, 50 percent increase in electricity price, 94 percent raise in gas tariff and 6 percent hike in interest rate.
He said it was the result of his team’s resistance, which helped in getting the IMF package on considerably better conditions under Finance Adviser Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.