ISLAMABAD – Chairman FBR Nisar Khan yesterday refused to brief the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance about the Panama papers saying this issue was not included in the agenda of the meeting. “I will give detailed briefing on the Panama papers revelations after the committee includes it in its agenda,” Nisar remarked.

Secretary Finance Waqar Masood also supported the viewpoint of the Chairman FBR. The parliamentary committee, headed by Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh, however, expressed reservations on the FBR chief’s refusal for the briefing.

However, the committee members of opposition parties including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) criticized the government for not discussing the important issue of Panama leaks in the committee meeting. They accused the Chairman committee of favouring the government for not making panama papers a part of committee’s agenda.

“It was decided in a meeting held on April 19 that the committee will discuss the Panama issues in next ten days. However, the issue had not taken yet, which clearly reflects that the government does not want to discuss the issue,” said PTI’s lawmaker Asad Umar. He further said that it is the responsibility of the committee to discuss the panama issue.

PPP’s MNA Naveed Qamar noted that the government is not interested in discussing the issue. “The government should explain its motive of not discussing the Panama papers revelations”. MQM’s lawmaker Abdul Rashid Godil also supported the viewpoint of PTI and PPP by saying that neither of the countries is working for any terms of reference for discussing the Panama issue as happening in Pakistan.

Later, the committee recommended that Panama Papers and other related issues would be discussed in the next meeting of the Standing Committee.

Chairman FBR Nisar Khan informed the committee that tax collection was recorded at Rs3112 billion during the previous financial year 2015-16, which is 20 percent higher than the collection of the preceding year. “There was no downward revision of tax collection target during last fiscal year as like in the past”. Giving some details, he said FBR had collected Rs219 billion taxes on the import of oil products in previous financial year.

However, the committee members were not satisfied with the presentations of the FBR. They were of the view that FBR has not briefed the committee, as demanded by the lawmaker. It was also decided that FBR would brief the Committee regarding national revenue collection (NRC) as per the notice given by Committee in next meeting.

The committee also discussed ‘The Limited Liability Partnership Bill, 2016’. An official of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) briefed the committee about the main features of the Bill. He said that this Bill would provide a new form of business structure, which would fill the gap between business firms such as sole proprietorships and partnerships. He further stated that the proposed law would also provide an alternative forum for business organizations, which has the flexibility of general partnership. The Committee decided that the said Bill would be discussed in the next meeting. The National Assembly’s committee also discussed the zero rating sales tax on stationery items. It was recommended by the Committee that stationery association will send a comprehensive proposal to this Committee for onward submission to the FBR for its fruitful decision.

The Chairman FBR briefed the Committee regarding differential of Income Tax between Commercial Importers and Industrial Importers. The Committee unanimously decided that a proposal in this regard would be forwarded to FBR for consideration on the matter.

The meeting was attended by Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Sheikh Fayyaz-ud-Din, Mian Abdul Mannan, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr. Nafisa Shah, Syed Mustafa Mehmud, Asad Umar and Abdul Rashid Godil, MNAs and besides senior officers from the Ministry of Finance & Revenue.

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