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Ishaq Dar wants amendment in the definition of “Federal Govt”

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday called for amending the definition of the government to ensure smooth running of state affairs.

“Our hands will be tied and it will not be possible to carry out work unless the current definition is reversed,” Ishaq Dar said while winding up the budget discussion in the Senate, which was followed by adoption of a set of recommendations formulated by the Senate’s standing committee on finance. These recommendations will now be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.

Mr Dar said under the present arrangement, nothing could be done without the approval of the cabinet, pointing out that certain matters required immediate decision and issuance of notifications. “The proposal is to replace the words the federal government with the minister in charge in the finance bill. We need a legal amendment and will be ready to revert once it is passed,” he remarked.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s judgement holding that the prime minister was not the federal government and it meant the prime minister and the cabinet, he said the Supreme Court judgement would be honoured. He, however, said the court would interpret the law as it was.

Mr Dar rejected the theory that presentation of the budget was illegal in the absence of a new National Finance Commission award, stressing that there was no link between the budget and the NFC. He pointed out that one award had come after 16 years and another after 13 years.

Explaining the reasons for delay in announcement of the next NFC award, he said two issues had cropped up recently. He said the government wanted to allocate three per cent each out of the gross divisible pool to meet expenses for additional security and Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata. He claimed that it would not affect horizontal and vertical distribution of resources. He said Rs90-100 billion were being spent annually on the war on terror without any foreign support.

He said an organised mafia in the country was earning around Rs200 million per year in the name of octroi tax and it enjoyed a massive political support. He said when the tax was abolished by the government he was threatened that the mafia would physically eliminate him.

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Hamza Jaffery

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