Another bomb is about to drop on the problem-stricken nation, as the government prepares to impose a gas infrastructure development tax on consumers to collect an estimated revenue of Rs. 40 billion.
The government of Pakistan has been imposing such cesses to seek power to amend the levy on petroleum products from time to time. Two money bills were presented in the Senate on Thursday, including Gas Infrastructure Development
Cess Act and Petroleum Products Act. These bills were recently presented in the National Assembly when the Senate was not in session.
PML-N’s Parliamentary Leader in Senate, Ishaq Dar, said that it is wrong to introduce these bills as the money bills. Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmad supported the view of Mr. Dar in his conversation with the press reporters,
citing that it is a clear misuse of power by the Speaker of the National Assembly in deciding whether it falls under the category of money bills or not. The Constitution clearly states that the Speaker is the ultimate authority in deciding the nature of bills
but this clause has been brutally breached this time.
Government’s Information Minister, Dr. Firdos Ashiq Awan, refuted the charges of the Senators by arguing that these tax reforms were necessary for the supporting the national economy. The Minister further told that the tax base
has already been widened for social sector development and the Senators would endorse the new bills if they see it in the national interest.
“We will move forward if we are able to get it passed by a majority vote and will respect the decision of the majority in either case,” said the Information Minister.
The statement of objects and reasons of the gas infrastructure development bill pursues to bridge the demand and supply of gas by a number of gas import projects, which include Iran-Pakistan pipelines and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India
(TAPI) pipeline projects.
“For the development of required infrastructure the imposition and collection of infrastructure development cess has become necessary otherwise the government will be forced to import liquid fuels which are much costlier as compared
to gas,” the statement reads.
Chairman of the Senate, Farooq H. Naik had asked the Senate Standing Committee on Finance to present its recommendations by 31st October.