ISLAMABAD
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Tuesday asked the Finance Ministry to refer the case involving Rs 18.5 billion losses occurred in the Bangladesh branch of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for taking necessary action.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which met under the chair of Omar Ayub Khan, has discussed the NBP scam. Sub-committee of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue has presented its report before the committee. The sub-committee under the chairmanship of Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh MNA in its report stated no action had been taken against officials involved in scam including four former chairmen of the Bank.

The NA standing committee on the recommendations of the sub-committee recommended the case be referred to NAB, so that internal inquiry must continue in this regard. The Committee members said that action should be taken against NBP officers including former Chairmen.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on September last year had constituted a sub-committee to probe the financial embezzlement occurred in National Bank of Pakistan’s Dhaka branch and to present report in 45 days. However, the committee took more than four months period to compile the report.

The Committee deferred the discussion on the increase in General Sales Tax (GST) on petroleum products from 17 to 27 percent due to the absence of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar from the meeting. The Committee was informed that Finance Minister and Secretary are in Dubai for holding discussions with International Monetary (IMF) team for the sixth economic review.

The committee members showed serious concerns over the increase in circular debt in the country and recommended the government to overcome it. Former Finance Minister Syed Naveed Qamar said that government has not formulated a strategy to permanently solve the issue of circular debt, which once again surged to Rs 300 billion. The committee decided to discuss it in detail in the next meeting. The Committee decided to constitute a sub-committee comprising five members to consider the possibilities of broadening tax base of the country. MNA Qaiser Sheikh would head the sub-committee. Acting Secretary Finance Azra Mujhtaba informed that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had issued notices to 2,40,000 potential taxpayers to pay their due taxes.

Acting Finance Secretary informed that finance ministry has not paid a single penny to Pakistan State Oil (PSO). The finance ministry pays subsidy to the Minister of Water and Power for power differentials. The financial condition of the PSO should be improved to steer out it from crisis, she added.

She briefed the Committee regarding economic situation of the country. She informed that economy was fragile and weak when the present government took charge back in June 2013. As the growth rate had averaged less than 3 percent since 2008-09, inflation had averaged around 12 percent and national reserves dropped below $8 billion (SBP reserves only $2.8 billion in February 2014) due to the heavy repayments to the international financial institutions against the loans taken by the previous governments. She further said that average inflation has stabilised at 8.6 percent in fiscal year 2014. During July-December fiscal year 2015 it has declined significantly and reordered at 6.1 percent as compared 8.9 percent in the same period of fiscal year 2014. Dr Mujtaba informed the committee that privatisation under way on fast track basis.

She further expressed about the milestone achieved by the government in real sector such as large scale manufacturing (LSM) has recorded growth of 4.9 percent in November 2014 as compared to the same period of the previous year. During July-November FY2015, the LSM has recorded growth of 2.5 percent, she added.

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