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NA passes Finance Bill 2013 with majority vote; GST to stay at 17%

28 June, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday approved the Finance Bill 2013 with a majority, including taxation proposals for the upcoming fiscal year.

Increase in standard rate of general sales tax (GST) from 16 percent to 17 percent would be applicable from June 13, while there would be 26 percent GST on CNG owing to the value-added method based on input adjustment.

According to a key amendment, the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) shall have the powers to exempt expenditure of secret service agencies, certified by the government as 'relating to national security', from the scope of audit. The NA session was presided over by Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar rejected criticism from the opposition parties and termed the federal budget a roadmap for sustainable economic growth and economic development in the country. Dar categorically informed the Lower House that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had termed the new taxes to the tune of Rs 207 billion "not enough" for meeting the Rs 2.475 trillion target set for the next fiscal year.

"The IMF wanted us to take Rs 475 billion fresh taxation measures in the budget, however, we have refused it. The government would like to take the IMF loan on its own terms and conditions. A new IMF loan programme or no programme, no more taxes! The IMF has been told," Dar told the National Assembly.

Opposition parties, including the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) strongly criticised the budgetary proposals and termed it an 'IMF budget'.

According to the amendments, the federal government has taken over the task of determining additional privileges of the Senate chairman and the National Assembly speaker.

Similarly, the government has restricted the travelling allowance of parliamentarians, which shall not exceed the aggregated amount of daily conveyance and housing allowance.

Provisions of income support levy would not be applicable to any mutual fund, while licensing authority shall certify any foreign TV drama for screening and viewing on any landing rights channel. Moreover, advance tax shall be collected as per first schedule. Some 12 percent advance tax will be collected on imported foreign films for the purpose of screening and viewing in Pakistan.

Federal government has exempted the initial Rs 150,000 annual rental income for the individual and association of persons from income tax. However, it introduced two new slabs for higher rental incomes, stating that where the gross amount of rent does not exceed Rs 150,000, the rate of tax would be nil. Where gross income amount of rent exceeds Rs 150,000 but does not exceed Rs 1 million, the rate of tax would be 10 percent of the gross amount exceeding Rs 150,000. Where the gross amount of rent exceeds Rs 1 million, the rate of tax would be Rs 85,000 plus 15 percent of the gross amount exceeding Rs 1000,000.

Income tax rebate for teachers and researchers have been reduced from 75 percent of their taxable income to 40 percent of their taxable income for the tax year. Earlier, the government had withdrawn the entire 75 percent rebate owing to misuse of this facility.

End.

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