ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised Pakistan to make efforts to increase the volume of its exports by inking Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with more countries, said National Assembly Finance Committee Chairman Faizullah Kamoka.
The lawmaker made the statement after the IMF mission visiting Pakistan till Feb 13 briefed the members of the finance committees of both houses of parliament in an in-camera meeting, wherein health, education, water and sanitation and five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were discussed.
Speaking to the media after the in-camera meeting, the NA committee chairman said that the government would not announce the mini-budget and added the talks with the delegation were fruitful.
Farooq H Naik told reporters that the IMF team was briefed by the committee members concerning SDGs.
There are 27 SDGs, including poverty alleviation, education, health, climate change, environment as well as peace and justice. The Fund asked the Pakistan government to do better regarding the SDGs to remain eligible for the Fund’s programme.
The mission also suggested that the government provide incentives to exporters as well as importers, saying that the import tariffs were high, said the lawmaker. The visiting team was also briefed on imports and exports, sales tax in addition to the value-added tax issues, he added.
Lawmaker Ayesha Ghous Pasha said that the NA body discussed the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the team, with the members expressing concerns over an increase in inflation and unemployment due to the IMF programme.
Furthermore, a local media outlet claimed that talks between both sides have concluded and there would be no hike in taxes till June. The report said the mini-budget would also be not introduced as per the talks.
TAX AMENDMENT BILL REJECTED
Separately, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affair division rejected the Tax Amendment Bill 2020, saying most of the amendments in the bill were related to Customs instead of taxes, hence the bill didn’t qualify as the money bill.
The committee members discussed the customs-related provisions of the bill, especially the proposal that allows the Customs officials to shoot suspects.
Questioning the proposal, committee member Sherry Rehman said how can the government allow someone to shoot at people as she rejected the proposal. The rejection was endorsed by the body chairman, Farooq H Naik, as well.
At the outset of the meeting, Committee Chairman Senator Farooq H Naik said that this was a very important bill but the secretaries of finance and law were not present on the occasion.