ISLAMABAD - The Senate yesterday forwarded 139 recommendations for the Finance Bill 2016 to the National Assembly.

Senators proposed 279 budgetary considerations to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that short-listed 139.  However, it is not binding for the National Assembly to adopt these recommendations. The lower house can turn down all of them.

The recommendations include 15 percent increase in salaries and pensions of civil servants, implementation of Rs14,000 minimum wages, withdrawal of sales tax on local powder milk and  and roadmap for interest-free economy.

The upper house raised demand for reducing interest rate on agriculture loans to one percent. “Interest free loans should be given to orphans, widows, unattended women, youth and farmers,” the recommendations added.

The upper house also suggested Rs10,000 special conveyance allowance to disabled federal government employees.  “Services of all contractual employees appointed on disabled quota should be regularised all over the country while abolition of zero-rated status on stationary items and their inputs should be withdrawn,” the senators suggested.

They added that foreign scholarships for PhD MPhil and bar at law be given by the federal government.

The senate recommended ZTBL should be encouraged to provide soft loans to farmers.

It has also asked that import of farm machinery should be exempted from duty and tax in Balochsitan for 10 years. The house recommended that the process of filing of income tax should be simplified. The upper house also proposed making special allocations for addressing issues of climate change and environmental degradation.

The senate proposed bringing down sale tax on bottled water to 12 per cent from 17 per cent and restoring zero-rating on stationery. It has also suggested the review of privatization of Pakistan Still Mills. The upper house proposed a strategy to get rid of foreign loans and efforts should be made to eliminate dependence on foreign loans. It demanded that taxes imposed by the government on the people of Fata should be waived off due to the destruction cause by the war on terror. Energy projects in Fata to provide people relief from power crisis, it was recommended.

According to the budget recommendations, the Ministry of Finance should present the broad parameters of the budget in March and detailed budget by mid May every year in both houses of the parliament for pre-budget discussion.

The senate stressed all international loans and economic agreements should be presented before the parliament for information.

The senate also recommended that federal government should ‘provincialise’ all Discos to rationalise the energy cost subject to the consent of provinces through the CCI. It has also demanded an increase in subsidies on tube wells in Balochistan.