Ijaz Kakakhel Islamabad
Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs met on Tuesday under the Chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla to Consider and finalize the recommendations on Finance Bill, 2022, containing the Annual Budget Statement laid in the House on 10th June, 2022 here at the Parliament House.
The meeting commenced by examining the Customs Act, 1969 and various proposals forwarded by members of the upper House were taken into consideration. The committee was briefed by the Custom Authorities on various insertions of new clauses Definitions/ objectives. The Senate committee emphasized on making the law more clear and comprehensive enough to avoid the chances of misuse due to ambiguity. “Enforcement of taxation laws should be through bills and not ordinances”, Chairman Finance Committee Senator Saleem Mandviwalla maintained.
The committee was briefed by the Custom Authorities that the volume of trade is increasing and 74 Government agencies aboard has come together through online regulatory system on one time basis submission of documents and termed it as a golden jump in terms of trade volume.
It was also briefed that the insertion of new clause on “unauthorized access” was introduced in order to align the Customs Act, 1969 with the Pakistan Single Window (PWS) act. The committee recommended that the definition “un-authorized access” is open ended and can make means to create offences therefore proposed clarity in the definition.
The committee was also briefed that the essential commodities like food items, fertilizers and other items of daily use are prone to smuggling out of the country through all international borders due to disparity in their prices in comparison with international market, smuggling of items may result in their shortages in domestic market causing exponential hardship to the common man of the country therefore proposed to define “essential commodities”.
The committee was also briefed on the Import Policy Order 2020 which provides option of change in consignee name for frustrated cargo by Customs Authorities while custom Act, 1969 only provides option of re-export or re-shipping of frustrated cargo, therefore, the amendment has proposed to align customs act 1969 with Import Policy Order, in order to resolve the congestion caused on the port by the un-owned cargoes. Leader of the Opposition Senator Shehzad Waseem sought details particularly on defining the “changed consignee” and under what circumstances. The amendment was deferred for further explanation by the Customs Authorities in the next meeting.
The amendment of the collective customs to time to time fix the period after the expiration of which goods left in any customs house, shall be subject to payment of fees, was unanimously omitted by the Senate Committee.
The Sales Tax Provision of Finance Bill, 2022-23 was also taken under consideration. The Production transmission and distribution of electricity which was brought into the ambit of definition of goods was unanimously omitted.
Tax on goods imported by various agencies of the United Nations, Diplomats, Diplomatic missions, and other privileged persons and organizations which are covered under various acts and regulations have been exempted. Tax on silver and gold in unworked condition, tractors, seeds for sowing and imported machinery equipment for exclusive use was also exempted. Senator Zeeshan Khanzada gave descending note on the exemption of taxes on gold, silver and sowing seed whereas Senator Saleem Sabzwari only gave his descend note on the exemption of tax on sowing seed.
The meeting was deferred to meet again on Wednesday at 10:30 am for further deliberation on the Sales tax provision of Finance Bill, 2022
The meeting was attended by Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Senator Shahzad Waseem, Sherry Rehman, Farooq Hamid Naek, Mohsin Aziz, Faisal Saleem Rehman, Zeeshan Khanzada, Syed Faisal Ali Subzwari, Senator Talha Mahmood, and Senator Dilawar Khan. Senior officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Customs Authorities, FBR and other attached departments were also in attendance.