KARACHI - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Saturday said that Income Support Levy at the rate of 0.5 per cent under the Income Support Levy Act 2013 is only applicable on individuals and not on companies or the corporate sector.

This was stated by Senator Ishaq Dar during his visit to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry head office on Saturday, removing the misperception of a large number of businessmen who attended the meeting.

He also informed the house that the access to bank data by FBR u/S 165A will only be allowed to the FBR Chairman and Members (BPS 21 and 22) and a notification would be issued soon in this respect to remove the inhibitions of the business community. Any misuse of this information would be heavily penalized.

He said that this provision is only meant for the new assessees who travel abroad frequently in first class and whose children study in expensive schools, but do not pay taxes. He said that 10,000 notices have been issued to the potential taxpayers with a view to broaden the tax base. This shall not be applicable to the existing assessees.

Earlier, Zubair Ahmed Malik, President FPCCI welcomed the Finance Minister and appreciated the government’s resolve to find solutions to the energy crisis (including the circular debt) and the ballooning fiscal deficit. He also pointed out some harsh irritants in the budget.

Tariq Sayeed, former president FPCCI, stressed the need for frequent interaction between the business community and the government. He lamented the delay in payment of longstanding refund claims. The Finance Minister said that there was a backlog of two years on refunds, but he assured the businessmen that he would examine this issue carefully.

S M Muneer, former president FPCCI, stressed that the tanner manufacturers exporters may be exempted from the applicability of SRO 505(I)/2013 which makes them withholding agents to collect 17% sales tax from unregistered persons. He also proposed exempting the supply of raw hides and skins for leather industry from sales tax as under SRO 505(I)/2013, they are required to withhold sales tax at applicable rates from taxable purchases made from unregistered persons.

In response to Zakaria Usman, Chairman of FPCCI Budget Working Group’s suggestion that minimum tax be reduced from 1% to 0.5%, the finance minister said that it will not be applicable in case of gross loss. Regarding the time period of four months allowed for shipment of plant and machinery, Senator Dar agreed to extend it to one year.

After an exhaustive discussion, it was announced by the Finance Minister that a committee comprising of representatives of FBR and FPCCI would be formed to take up all outstanding matters which were impeding business activities. The business leaders were generally very happy with the positive approach of the Finance Minister and his team which included the Governor SBP, Secretary Finance, Chairman FBR and other senior officers of FBR. Meanwhile, talking to media persons after visit to Karachi Stock Exchange, the Finance Minister said steps taken by the government regarding the economy have a very positive impact on the stock exchange. Earlier‚ the Finance Minister had a meeting with the top management of the KSE.

Meanwhile, while talking to media persons after a visit to the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE), Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the steps that have been taken by the Government of Pakistan regarding the economy have a very positive impact on the stock exchange. Earlier, the Finance Minister had a meeting with the top management of the KSE.

Dar said that government’s steps regarding economy had a very positive impact on the stock exchange and that its international recognition has enhanced further. Senator Ishaq Dar informed that some decisions have been taken on Saturday and that some actions would be taken for the protection of small investors who suffer owing to volatility or the fall in the market as had been witnessed during the 2008 crisis.

He said that some steps would also be taken for ensuring the depth of the market as well as for the government’s T bills and the bonds.

The Federal Finance Minister said that a committee has been formed which would consist of representatives of the Stock Exchange, State Bank of Pakistan, SECP. The committee would complete its task by September 30 and would approach the Ministry of Finance and that this would later be implemented.

Our Staff Reporters add: Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) has delayed implementation of its decision of increase in loadshedding duration after the assurance of Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar that the federal government will take every possible action to resolve KESC’s outstanding amounts issue.

According to the details, a delegation of KESC headed by its CEO Nayyer Hussain called on Federal Finance Minster Ishaq Dar. The delegation explained the massive problems of KESC due to Rs.84 billion outstanding amount against various government organizations including Education Department, Health Department, Pakistan Stills and others. The minister was told that KESC outstanding amount against the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) alone amounted to Rs23 billion.

Federal Minister Ishaq Dar assured the delegation that every possible action will be taken to resolve the issue.

Sources said that the Finance Minister assured the KESC management to pay most of the dues on Saturday. Following the issue, a meeting was being expected between KESC management and Finance Ministry on Saturday late night regarding to the issue.

Earlier, Jammat-e-Islami (JI) demanded Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to take immediate notice of the KESC decision on increasing the loadshedding duration in Karachi and take back the utility company under the government possession. In a statement here on Saturday, JI Karachi chief Mohammad Hussain Mehanti said that for long time the KESC has been hiking the electricity tariff. He added that the recent rain across the country has increased the production of electricity and reduced the loadshedding, but KESC has increased loadshedding to 13 hours a day.

Similarly, Central Coordination Committee of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) has strongly condemned the loadshedding of 10 to 13 hours daily in the residential, commercial and industrial areas of Karachi by KESC.

Earlier, the KESC had expressed disappointment over government’s inaction in releasing outstanding payments to the company and said that effective August 17 the utility will enforce the revised loadshedding regime across its territory. KESC categorically said that while the government has settled circular debt of up to Rs.500 billion in the energy sector, KESC has not been paid a single rupee despite the fact that government owes Rs84 billion to the utility company of which Rs 43.6 billion are against tariff differential claims.

Meanwhile, Ishaq Dar also met with Governor Singh Dr Ishrtual Ebad at Governor House Sindh. Various issues including the economic condition of the country came under discussion.

On the occasion, Ishaq Dar said that government is formulating a framework to encounter the economic challenges that include increase in revenue. He added huge pressure of the IMF loans exists and the only way to overcome the issues is to focus on increase in collection of revenue.