Assembly passes Finance Bill amid opposition’s absence

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Tuesday passed the Finance Bill while the opposition remained absent despite its claims that it will oppose imposition of ‘unfair’ taxes, which will also affect the middleclass and lower middleclass segments of society.
While passing the bill, the PA amended the rate of taxes on properties and now owners of houses measuring 2 kanal to 8 kanal in Lahore district and cantonment will pay Rs 200,000 and owners of houses of 8 kanal or above will pay Rs 300,000 while pro-rata rate for each marla shall be applied on an additional area less than 1 kanal of land. 
In the divisional headquarters and districts, owners of 2 kanal residential houses will pay Rs 150,000 while owners of houses above 2 kanal will pay Rs 250,000. 
Moreover, Rs 20,000 tax has been imposed on imported vehicles of 1590cc to 1990cc and Rs 25,000 on 1990cc to 2990cc while Rs 35,000 tax has been imposed on imported vehicles exceeding 2990cc.
Taking advantages of the absence of the opposition, the government was able to get two other important bills – the Management and Transfer of Properties by Development Authorities Bill and Bab-e-Pakistan Foundation Bill – passed easily.
The services which have been taxed in the 2014-15 budget are race clubs, cargo services, banking companies, cooperative financing societies, leasing companies, consultancies, cafes, travel agents, manpower supplies, food parlors, coffee houses, coffee shops, deras, food huts, eateries, resorts, food service outlets, intellectual property rights services, call centres, advertisements, including classified ads in newspapers, fumigation services, cleaning services, janitorial services, dredging or de-silting services, gyms, healthcare services, indoor sports, sauna massage services, laundry shops, dry cleaners, car wash and service stations, electronic equipment or construction or industrial machinery workshops, auto-workshops, production houses, cable TV operators, designers of textile, leather, jewellery or other product regimes including allied services such as cutting, stitching, printing, manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, embellishment, adornments, and display. Sales tax between 5 to 19.5 percent have now been imposed on different services mentioned above. 
The PA session on Tuesday started 58 minutes late to its scheduled time of 9am with Speaker Rana Iqbal Khan in the chair. 
The government also laid the Schedule of Authorised Expenditure for 2014-15 fiscal and got permission of the House to use the budget. Moreover, five ordinances, including the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Ordinance (VI) 2014, the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Ordinance (VII) 2014, the Punjab Registration of Godowns Ordinance 2014, the Punjab Strategic Coordination Ordinance, 2014, and the Punjab Overseas Pakistanis Commission Ordinance, 2014, were also laid and were referred to the standing committees concerned.
It is pertinent to mention that the House completed Tuesday’s proceedings within one hour which is shortest time of proceedings during the current tenure of the PML-N government. The PA will debate supplementary budget for 2013-14 fiscal during its session today (Wednesday).

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