ISLAMABAD, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 17th August, 2016) : Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Statistics recommended the Federal board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday to waive off General Sales Tax (GST) on all household electricity bills. Terming the sales tax on household electricity bills unjustified, Senator Col (R) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that majority of the people belonging to poor and lower middle class were already paying huge indirect taxes in the form of GST and other taxes so they should be given relief in electricity bills.
The meeting of the committee was chaired by Senator Saleem H. Mandviwala. Tahir Mashhadi suggested the FBR to raise their direct taxes by collecting taxes from the wealthier on their huge income and provide maximum relief to the common man by rationalizing what he said unjustified GST ratio of 17 per cent. Chairman, FBR Nisar Muhammad Khan informed the committee that the government had taken numerous initiatives for bringing reforms in the taxation system.
He said in order to bring maximum people in to the tax net, the government had also imposed withholding tax of 0.4 per cent on banking transactions of over Rs 50,000 from non-tax payers. He informed the committee that ratio of direct taxes had also increased from 38 per cent three years back to 41 per cent now due to the tax reforms initiated by the current government. Discussing on the agenda item regarding decrease of profit rates on National Saving Schemes, Secretary Finance, Dr Waqar Masood informed the committee that the profit rates on National Saving Schemes were reduced by the government due to the reduced policy rates by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
However, he pointed out that the government still was offering higher rates on its saving schemes as compared to the market rate. He said 9.12 per cent profit rate was being offered on Behbood and Pensioners schemes. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that saving schemes are in the benefit of the government so the people should not be discouraged to invest in the saving schemes by reducing profit rates. Discussing on another agenda item regarding working of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Senator Saleem Mandviwala asked that whether it was possible to hold the population census during the current fiscal year.
To which, Asif Bajwa, Chief Statistician (PBS) said that it depended on the availability of the Army. He said that according to the plan, one Army personal would be deputed with each enumerator who would be deputed for one block and there were in total 167,000 blocks. He informed that on civil side, 100 per cent work had been done while the Army was not still in a position to provide such a huge number of army personals at a time.
He informed that the government was also mulling over conducting 6th population census in phases due to shortage of resources. Senator Mushahidullah Khan on the occasion said that the Pakistan Muslim League (N) had conducted the previous census in 1998 and the credit of conducting 6th population would also go to PML-N government. The meeting was also attended by Senators Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, Nasreen Jalil, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassani, Islamuddin Shaikh and Mohsin Aziz.