NA passes Finance Bill 2014-15

*House rejects all amendments moved by opposition benches *Rs 36bn special package for all provinces, AJK, GB

ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly on Saturday approved the Finance Bill for fiscal year 2014-15 with total outlay of Rs 4.3 trillion accepting some amendments moved by the government and rejecting all one from the opposition benches.

Following nine-day discussion, the 149-page Finance Bill was moved by Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Senator Ishaq Dar that was passed by the House with majority in clause-by-clause reading. The passage of the Finance Bill has successfully brought to an end the budgetary process started on June 3 with the budget speech of the finance minister.

The bill now will go to the president for assent who will sign it into law making, it will be applicable from July 1, 2014. The House echoed with desk thumping as the House passed the budget in presence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who also witnessed the budget's passage. The Senate had made 133 recommendations out of those, the government accepted 57 and were incorporated in the federal budget, fully or partially.

Once signed into law, the bill will increase monthly stipend from Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 billion for those receiving income support and number of families for the Benazir Income Support programme will be increased from 4.1 million to 5.3 million. The crop insurance will be increased to 25 acres and prices of fertilizers will be reduced by Rs 300 per bag.

The bill will also help reduce GADC to Rs 100 on power, zero on cement, Rs 150 on general industry, Rs 200 on captive power and zero on commercial sector. The government will also impose uniformed income tax of 4 percent on first class air travel and reduce sales tax on solvent extractors from 17 to 16 percent.

The government will withdraw the exemptions of Rs 103 billion under its endeavor for phased-elimination of SROs aimed at favoring influential ones. The Finance Bill also provides a special package of Rs 36 billion for all provinces out of that Balochsitan will get Rs 14 billion, Sindh Rs 8 billion, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Rs 4 billion, FATA Rs 4 billion, AJK Rs 3 billion and Gilgit Baltistan Rs 2 billion.

As part of the budgetary approval, the House has also approved demands for grants worth Rs 2.6 trillion besides charged expenditures. Following the passage of the budget, the finance minister felicitated the National Assembly, Senate and the whole nation on approval of the budget, saying the government was committed to take Pakistan to its bright future as per vision of founder of the nation, Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He informed the National Assembly that Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves had reached to $14.2 billion.

Due to its prudent policies, he said the government had managed to cross $14 billion mark and in future it would continue taking steps for further improving foreign currency reserves.

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