The National Assembly met on Friday to discuss the newly proposed supplementary budget. However, the session ended without a vote on the amendments suggested. A crucial piece of legislation, the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2023, is intended to revive the delayed International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and prevent Pakistan from defaulting on its obligations to international lenders. As scheduled, the session will resume on February 20 at 5 p.m., under the chairmanship of NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
Ishaq Dar, the Finance Minister, presented a Rs 170 billion mini-budget that included inflationary measures; however, extra taxes were exempted from commercial banks and traders, undermining the coalition government’s argument that the burden should be placed on those sectors capable of handling it. Several previously unsuccessful measures were included in the bill, including a 10% advance income tax on public-private gatherings and functions.
During the session, some lawmakers expressed their concern over the impact of inflation on the poor. PPP MNA Qadir Mandokhail urged the government to increase taxes on luxury goods, such as cars and homes, as well as Twitter and WhatsApp, while decreasing the burden on the poor. Additionally, he asserted that following the appearance of audio leaks involving Shaukat Tareen, Jaafar Laghari, and Taimur Jhagra, the PTI intended to undermine the IMF accords.
MQM-P Sheikh Salahuddin, an MNA, criticised the Finance Minister for his “non-serious” response to the country’s dire circumstances and emphasised that the MQM-P was working with the PDM to avoid default and help the nation emerge from the economic downturn. Afzal Dhandla, a PTI MNA, claimed that everything was “uncontrollably expensive” and accused the finance minister of driving up the cost of gas and electricity for many people.
The National Assembly has received recommendations from the Senate regarding the Finance Amendment Bill 2023, and members of the NA may also discuss the recommendations, according to NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf. Other legislators, including PPP MNA Agha Rafiullah and GDA MNA Saira Bano, criticised the government’s tax increase and its effects on the underprivileged.
The National Assembly’s discussion of the suggested supplementary budget came to a close without a vote on the amendments. If the bill is approved, it will assist in restarting the IMF programme and stop Pakistan from skipping payments that are due to international lenders. Lawmakers criticised the government’s taxation policies and expressed concern about how inflation would affect the poor. The meeting will begin again on February 20, 2023 at 5 pm.