Senate panels dismayed over absence of ministers in meetings

  • Senator Sherry Rehman deplores the performance of planning ministry, says it is not China’s job to create an investment-friendly environment in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: As the key ministers of the cabinet remained busy in cabinet meetings and other government activities, the Senate committees on finance and China Pakistan Economic Corridor expressed serious reservations over the absence of the ministers concerned, saying that the government was not taking constitutional bodies seriously.

Showing its anger over the absence of Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar in the Senate Committee on CPEC, the parliamentary body termed the planning ministry as the most incompetent ministry of the government.

“If the ministry is unable to handle the important assignment of CPEC, the project should be handed over another ministry, said Senator Sherry Rehman, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on CPEC.

She said owing to the incompetence of the ministry, most of the obligations of the ministry are being met by the Chinese government.

The committee members, mostly from opposition parties, also seconded the chairperson’s views, requesting her to postpone the meeting till the availability of the minister.

Although the planning secretary tried to convince the committee that the minister could not attend the meeting due to his engagement at the Economic Coordination Committee, the members insisted the chairperson not to move forward the process of the committee.

“We do not want to create any controversy on CPEC but lack of coordination and communication at the ministry level is hampering the progress on important projects. It seems that the entire government is paralyzed,” the committee chairperson remarked. “It is not the job of China to create an investment-friendly environment in Pakistan.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs also raised concerns on the absence of the directed the finance minister, state minister of revenue and State Bank governor to ensure their presence in the next meeting in order to apprise the committee about the current state of the economy.

The committee, which met with Senator Farooq Hamid Naek in the chair, also sought details of the standby financial facility with the International Monitory Fund and reasons behind increasing the rate of inflation in the country.

The committee directed the revenue minister and the Federal Board of Revenue chairman to furnish the details of the implementation status of the recommendations made by the committee and adopted by the house on the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill 2019.

The Senate panel deferred the discussion on Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill, 2018, as it was informed by the senior officials of the Ministry of Law that a meeting was scheduled for making further deliberation on the above-mentioned bill.

While discussing another agenda item regarding granting tax exemptions for minimum ten years to the tourism industry to encouraging more investment from the private sector and to promote coastal tourism, an FBR official informed that the board was providing relaxation on airfares in term of federal excise duty, whereas the revenue collection of the services and sales tax were coming under the provincial subject, however, the FBR would extend all incentives to promote the coastal tourism.

The committee directed the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to remove the Unified Corporate Reporting System regulations, which were required for a director to disclose personal details of minor children, including their birth identification, and report the same to the committee.

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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