The Government intends to call the National Assembly session on Monday (today) to propose modifications related to taxes and duties to the Finance Supplemental Bill, known as Mini-Budget. The approval of the finance bill is necessary to ensure Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility gets cleared by the IMF’s Executive Board which is slated to convene on January 12 to decide the disbursement of about $1bn tranches.
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin presented the Finance budget to the National Assembly on December 30, 2021, amid a protest by the opposition. The Mini-Budget has triggered fireworks in the lower-house as the opposition has denounced the finance bill as “surrendering” to the IMF, and is preparing to meet before the session at the parliament house.
The government had hoped to enact the bill before the IMF meeting on January 12th, but sources say the Fund has agreed to postpone the review of Pakistan’s $6 billion loan program, which will instead take place on January 28th or 31st. Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry expressed the hope that the finance bill would be passed by the assembly in mid-January and the IMF had already been asked to reschedule its Jan 12 meeting.
If passed by parliament, the mini-budget will net additional revenues to the tune of Rs343 billion, equal to 0.6 percent of GDP, mainly by withdrawing sales tax exemptions.
Speaker Asad Qaiser proclaimed that the finance bill would not be forwarded to the standing committee and would instead be debated in the house, whereas he sent the bill seeking to provide “operational and financial autonomy” to the State Bank of Pakistan to the house committee concerned for a report.
The opposition, who had previously stated that they would vigorously oppose the government’s intention to introduce the bill, accused the governing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf of surrendering the country’s economic sovereignty through these laws. They said that the measures would exacerbate Pakistanis’ economic troubles, which were already reeling by extraordinary price increases and unemployment.