NA passes Finance Bill 2018-19

--Finance Minister Miftah Ismail says adjustments in upper limit of PDL will not impact petroleum prices. Says farmers who will pay their outstanding bills in first quarter of next fiscal year will be given exemption of 20 per cent in bills

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday passed the Finance Bill 2018-19, giving the go-ahead to the budgetary proposals for the upcoming fiscal year.

The House ratified the full-year federal budget for the financial year 2018-19 with a number of proposals given by members during the debate on the budget and recommendations of the Senate incorporated either fully or partially.

However, the basic structure of the budget remains the same as announced by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on April 27.

Winding up debate on the budget in the National Assembly earlier this week, the finance minister dispelled the impression that the government has increased the burden of taxes on low-income groups.

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The minister said the government believes in serving the masses and upholding the supremacy of democracy.

He assured that adjustment in the upper limit of Petroleum Development Levy (PDL) will not increase prices of petroleum products.

Miftah said the allocations of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) have been enhanced three times while ten billion rupees have been proposed for Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal for the next fiscal year.

His two amendments in the tax amnesty scheme were also passed alongside the bill. However, non-filers will not be able to open dollar accounts in the country, Ismail added.

Ismail further reiterated that international transactions crossing the 100,000 mark will be checked for a source of income.

The government also went back on its earlier announcement of increasing income tax exemption threshold from Rs400,000 to Rs1.2 million. It levied a nominal tax of Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 per annum on people earning from Rs400,000 to Rs1.2 million.

He said the government has increased power subsidy to Rs150 billion rupees adding that it has added 12,230 megawatts of power to the national grid which has greatly helped bridge the demand and supply gap.

He said efforts are being made to contain the circular debt in order to avoid outages in the summer season.

Miftah Ismail said that exports are witnessing an increase following the incentives introduced by the government.

About the steps taken for the growth of agriculture sector, he said the government has further reduced sales tax to 2 per cent on fertilizers.

He said the farmers who will pay their outstanding bills in the first quarter of next fiscal year will be given exemption of 20 per cent in the bills. This will benefit the farmers’ community to the tune of Rs 6 billion.

The minister announced to enhance the conveyance allowance of government employees of grade 1-16 by 50 per cent.

It will be applicable to the employees who sit for late hours. He said it is the priority of the government to provide relief to the low-income groups and for this purpose, the small housing schemes will be facilitated and encouraged.

He said that non-filers of tax returns will not be able to purchase a property but the limit for this purpose has been enhanced from Rs4 million to Rs5 million. He also announced to exempt the matches industry from sales tax.

The minister expressed confidence that the next year’s budget will give further impetus to the economy and will boost economic activities in the country.

He claimed that the government has spent resources on the welfare of people and the economy stands at the record growth level.

Miftah Ismail said that the upper house has furnished 157 recommendations for incorporation in the budget. He said of these 108 were related to the federal development budget which has been referred to the planning commission. He said the remaining 49 recommendations were pertaining to the finance ministry. He said of these forty-two have been adopted fully or partially.

The National Assembly held a discussion on the charged expenditures pertaining to different departments including Pakistan Railways, civil works, Federal Tax Ombudsman, Islamabad High Court, Supreme Court and Pakistan Post.

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