Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Shaukat Tarin lays supplementary finance bill in Senate amid Opposition protest

Opposition walks out of the Senate at least thrice; session adjourned till 10am on Friday

Federal Minister for Revenue and Finance Shaukat Tarin. — AFP/File
Federal Minister for Revenue and Finance Shaukat Tarin. — AFP/File

  • Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani directs Senators Faisal Javed and Ali Zafar to convince the Opposition to end protest over finance bill.
  • Senate passes amendment bill regarding harassment of women in the workplace.
  • Opposition walks out thrice; session adjourned till 10 am on Friday.

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Tuesday laid the supplementary finance bill — termed by the Opposition as a "mini-budget" — in the Senate amid a vociferous protest by the Opposition.

President Arif Alvi had summoned the Senate to meet in order to allow the government to lay before it the supplementary finance bill, which was introduced in the Parliament last week to meet the conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During the session, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani referred the bill to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance seeking recommendations within three days.

It is pertinent to mention here that supplementary finance bill’s approval is necessary to ensure that the IMF executive board clears the country’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) on January 12 for the disbursement of the near $1 billion tranche.

Read more: Govt unveils supplementary finance bill in line with IMF's demands

On Monday, during the launching ceremony of Parliamentarians Tax Directory, Tarin said he would be laying the finance (supplementary) bill before the Senate on Tuesday to fulfil the key constitutional requirement, adding that the Senate could finalise its recommendations in four days and then the bill could be passed by the National Assembly.

He, however, also mentioned that there will be no problem if the IMF’s board extends its meeting for a couple of days in case of approval of the bill takes a few days more.

PPP senator and former senate chairman Raza Rabbani said that the bill that was tabled is one fraught with IMF conditions.

Highlighting previous claims made by Tarin, he said that the finance minister had said the decision to increase petrol prices was made due to the IMF. He also said that Tarin had agreed that the US is pressurising the IMF.

“What sort of pressure is on them from the US?” he questioned, adding that the "country’s security has been mortgaged".

Rabbani added that the House and citizens of Pakistan should be taken into confidence on why is Pakistan agreeing to the tough conditions of the IMF.

Following the Opposition’s protest during the session, Sanjrani directed Senators Faisal Javed and Ali Zafar to convince them to end it.

Senate passes workplace harassment of women bill 

Meanwhile, an amended bill regarding harassment of women in the workplace was also passed in the Senate. The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was unanimously passed by the upper house.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari presented the bill.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on the Rights of Child Act bill was also passed during the session.

'FBR does not have complete information'

Speaking in the House, PPP leader Sherry Rehman addressed the criticism towards former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who paid no tax according to media reports.

Rehman noted that that the Federal Board of Revenue released its Parliamentarians Tax Directory 2019, however, Gilani was not a senator in 2019 and paid agricultural tax worth Rs1.8 million.

Read more: FBR 2019 tax directory: How much did PM Imran Khan, major politicians pay in taxes?

“The FBR does not have complete information,” she said, adding that "media management" is being done through the revenue board hence, the matter should be referred to the relevant committee.

Opposition walks out 

The Opposition walked out the House after their demand for a briefing on Reko Diq remained unheard. In all, the Opposition walked out at least thrice during the session.

As soon as the Opposition walked out, an incomplete quorum in the house was pointed out. The deputy chairman ordered that bells to alert the Opposition be rung.

After the Opposition was assured it would be given a briefing on Reko Diq, they returned.

However, due to an incomplete quorum, the Senate session was adjourned till 10am on Friday.