ISLAMABAD: Opposition members in the Senate criticised the government on Thursday for announcing insufficient cut in petroleum prices and levying new taxes by imposing an additional tax of Rs101 billion on gas consumers.
Taking part in a debate on two motions on “depriving masses of benefits of gross reduction in petroleum prices in the international market” and “the government’s decision to further burden gas consumers with Rs101bn”, the opposition senators said that such steps showed that the government’s economic policy had failed.
Initiating the debate, the PPP’s parliamentary leader Saeed Ghani said the government had recently imposed Rs40 billion taxes on masses and now it was not ready to pass on the benefit of decrease in oil prices in the international market.
He said people had already been paying for pipelines in the form of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess and charging them again another Rs110bn for the same purpose was nothing but double taxation.
Tahir Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement alleged that the rulers were interested in making policies only for the rich and industrialists and had no care for the poor people.
“It is the government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich,” he said.
Govt accused of bypassing parliament on key issues
Nauman Wazir of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said those people were making economic policies who did not even know the difference between billion and trillion.
PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said not transferring the benefit of reduced oil prices to people, recent levy of Rs40bn taxes and the decision to tax the poor additional Rs110bn for building pipelines demonstrated the PML-N government’s “lopsided economic priorities” and its “personalised style of governance”.
“The government is taxing the poor through indirect and double taxation and protecting the rich unabashedly. It is taking personalised decisions disregarding the institutional mechanisms of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), parliament and the regulatory bodies mandated by law,” he said.
He said poor people of all provinces were being subjected to double taxation for building gas pipelines to transport LNG from Karachi port to Punjab for power generation without taking the matter to parliament or the CCI, which was the constitutional forum for that purpose.
That would breed resentment among other provinces, he said. He said the Sindh government had already asked the power regulator not to allow Punjab government’s request for building of power plants based on imported LNG unless the issue was discussed and decided in the CCI.
Osman Saifullah of the PPP called for ensuring presence of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in parliament. He questioned the logic of holding talks with the International Monetary Fund in Dubai and said “why can’t they come to Pakistan”.
He said the government’s own official report showed that the trade deficit was highest over the past seven years.
Independent member Mohsin Leghari said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority had suggested 9.9 per cent reduction in oil prices, but the government did not agree to it.
By not paying heed to recommendations of regulatory bodies, he said, the government was weakening the institutions which could lead to the weakening of the whole system.
He also termed imposition of additional taxes “from outside the parliament” a violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment.
Dr Karim Khawaja of the PPP threatened to challenge the decisions to privatise the PIA and impose tax on gas consumers in court, if the issues were not discussed at the CCI.
PPP senator Taj Haider called for increasing gas exploration and production in the country, instead of importing it. He said the subjects of oil and gas should be discussed at the CCI.
From the government side, Javed Abbasi defended the government’s economic policies, saying the situation was much better than it was two years ago.
He said opposition senators were delivering speeches only for the sake of criticism and asked them to come up with suggestions instead of delivering fiery speeches, which they (government functionaries) had been hearing over the past many months.
The Senate passed two separate resolutions to express grief on the demise of former deputy chairman of Senate Malik Muhammad Ali Khan and renowned writer Fatima Surayya Bajia.
Moving the resolution, Khushbakht Shujaat of the MQM said that Fatima Surayya Bajia had made remarkable contribution to promotion of Urdu literature in Pakistan. An important chapter of the Urdu literature has been closed after her death, she added.
Courtesy : Dawn News