Only 41% of legislators took part in the first budget session of the 14th National Assembly as the government’s decision to implement the increase in the General Sales Tax (GST) before the passage of the budget was criticized by the opposition. On the other hand the Supreme Court also ruled the government had no legal authority to levy and charge 17 per cent GST without the parliamentary approval. The session, that spread over 13 sittings from June 12 to June 28, 2013, lasted 85 hours. On average, each sitting started 20 minutes late and met for six hours and 32 minutes.
The session, that spread over 13 sittings from June 12 to June 28, 2013, lasted 85 hours. On average, each sitting started 20 minutes late and met for six hours and 32 minutes. The first sitting saw the Finance Minister presenting the Finance Bill 2013 in his budget speech that spanned an hour and 50 minutes.
The general debate started two days later with an opening speech by the Leader of the Opposition and lasted 41 hours and 25 minutes. The opposition criticized the budget, terming it an “anti-poor budget designed to benefit the business class.” The opposition parties repeatedly condemned the increase in GST from 16% to 17% and its imposition before the budget’s passage. They also expressed concern over the government’s failure to expand the direct tax net, increase the salaries of government employees, tax the agriculture sector and fix the promised minimum wage. The online access of bank details awarded to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the abolition of tax exemption in terrorism-hit FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also criticized.
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