Rs208 bn tax waiver: PM directs removal of misconception about issue

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Shafaqna Pakistan: Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed disappointment over twisting of facts over the issue of waiving off Rs208 billion in taxes to wealthy industrialists and called for removing misunderstandings on the issue.

Petroleum Minister Omer Ayub on Tuesday said the decision to waive off Rs208 billion in taxes to wealthy industrialists was taken to “settle a long-standing dispute” after he was directed by the prime minister to clear up the ambiguity surrounding the matter as the decision wasn’t taken to “benefit any individuals”.

In a weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the minister concerned to explain it to the people why the taxes were written off. “No one would be given an undue advantage as it is up to the government to guard the national exchequer,” Imran said.

During the meeting, the economic team also gave a detailed briefing to the members of thecabinet after they questioned the decision of waiving off the GIDC.

Later, speaking to media persons along with PM’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan and Nadeem Babar, Omar Ayub said the government’s decision to waive billions of rupees of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) was taken to settle a “long-standing dispute”. He said the decision was in line with the government’s policy and vision of Imran Khan to “reduce impact of rising prices of commodities on the common man”.

The minister said: “No free lunch is being offered to any industry or sector through this measure.” He said it will generate Rs45 billion. He said the government strongly believes in transparency and will not take any step against the public interest. Omar Ayub said the fertiliser industry will need to submit a forensic audit to determine if it had collected GIDC from farmers, and if so, to what extent. They would have to refund such amounts to the farmers through future price adjustment or surrender these amounts to the government treasury, he explained. He said the amount waived off will be used by these companies for developing and improving infrastructure.

He said in total there are seven beneficiary fertiliser companies, of which two have already availed the facility during the previous PPP tenure. All of these are public limited companies and are fully audited, he explained. The government waived off approximately Rs208 billion in GIDC through a presidential ordinance with effect from August 28.