Rush to meet IMF conditions: NA, Senate take up mini-budget today

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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to summon the National Assembly session on Wednesday (today) to take up the mini-budget as per the conditions agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).The bill would be consigned to President Dr Arif Alvi immediately for assent. The sources said the president could hold the bill for 10 days but he had assured Finance Minister Ishaq Dar of giving his assent soon after receiving the bill.

The sources reminded us that certain duties and taxes would be put in place as soon as Federal Finance and Revenue Minister Senator Ishaq Dar would present the bill in the House.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who didn’t attend the last session, would be present today. The session will commence at 3:30 pm with Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair. It would be the 47th session of the existing National Assembly. The government has been contacting the assembly members on an emergency basis to ensure the maximum presence in the House. The exercise was started Tuesday afternoon soon after the finance minister met the president.

The sources said President Arif Alvi was reluctant to issue an ordinance for enforcement of the mini-budget. He was trying to convey that since the joint sitting of parliament was in session, it wouldn’t be appropriate to promulgate a presidential ordinance for fiscal legislation. The sources said the president was reminded that the ongoing sitting of the two houses of parliament didn’t come in the way of promulgation of the ordinance. He was told that the ordinance could not be issued while the National Assembly or the Senate was in session but Alvi stuck to his contention.

It was later decided that the National Assembly session should be summoned for the purpose. The Finance Bill, approved by the federal cabinet Tuesday evening, would become a part of the legislation after it was passed by the National Assembly. Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad has asked his group members to attend the session. Later in the evening, the government decided to summon the Senate session at 4:30 pm.

The sources said the bill would be transmitted to the Senate soon after its passage by the National Assembly. The Senate would condone the period fixed for deliberations through the suspension of the rules of business and return the bill to the National Assembly. The sources said the government had planned to impose new taxes this week. Muhammad Anis adds: The Finance Supplementary Bill, 2023 will be presented in the National Assembly and Senate on Wednesday (today) for approval after the federal cabinet okayed it on Tuesday.

In this regard, the separate sessions of the two houses were summoned after President Arif Alvi refused to promulgate the supplementary bill ordinance in a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The president advised the finance minister to seek approval from the parliament. The National Assembly will meet at 3:30 pm while the Senate session will be held at 4:30 pm. The cabinet meeting was informed about the imposition of additional taxes on luxury items as well as a one per cent increase in the sales tax.