Sindh Finance Bill adopted with ruling PPP members’ votes
KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday adopted the ‘Sindh Finance Bill 2017-18’ to approve the fiscal budget amounting Rs1.043 trillion with Rs14 billion deficit, despite its rejection by the opposition.
Although MQM’s veteran, Syed Sardar Ahmed praised the bill, Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan, opposition leader who also hails from Sardar’s party, loudly turned down the budget, as well. Opposition asked the government to scale down the indirect taxes to help relieve the poor people from the huge financial burden.
The bill also sought to increase telecom sector tax from previously 19 percent to 19.5 percent.
Sindh Chief Minster Syed Murad Ali Shah told the legislature said that the reduced tax never benefited the telecom customers since the companies were deducting 19.5 percent from users while paying 19 percent to the government.
“Further reduction in taxes is needed,” Syed Sardar Ahmed asked the government, saying that the inflation soars as the poor are hand to mouth. He proposed that the government should scale down the indirect taxes while subsidizing essential commodities especially wheat for the urban areas of the province. He proposed that the government should evolve a rationing plan to benefit the poor.
He called the bill a ‘good attempt’ by the PPP government ahead of next general election. He also lauded the government for the ‘tax free’ budget.
Leader of the Opposition, MQM’s Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan rejected what he said the ‘copy-paste’ budget and finance bill. It is against the interest of people of Sindh. He also alerted the PPP for its diminishing electoral popularity in the province.
Dilawar Qureshi of MQM asked the government to reduce its dependence on indirect taxes that stands at al almost 94 percent which the provincial government collects whereas the direct taxes are just seven percent with Rs12 billion. He said that the 16 percent GST is hurting poor public while attaining legal, academic, healthcare services.
PML-F’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi asked the government to reform taxation system to boost the revenues to help address the grievances the poor section of the society are facing. She observed that the influential people escape the tax net easily, while the poor suffer colossally the additional financial burden beyond their income. She said that the CM Sindh failed to break the status quo.
PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman Khan said that the provincial direct taxes amounted to Rs13 billion while the indirect taxes amount to Rs173 billion, which widely benefited the ruling elites. He said that “the affluent people are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” PML-N’s Shafi Muhammad Jamote asked the government to step up efforts to protect the coastal area of Sindh from pollution.
Responding to these speeches, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah said that whatever statements are made the PPP is a majority party in the province.
“In order to rationalize certain taxes and to amend certain laws in the Province of Sindh, it is expedient to enact a law in the subject matter,” the objects and reasons of the bill state. The bill received votes only from treasury benches while the opposition declined to support it.