ISLAMABAD: Members of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue representing five major parties, including coalition partners, have sought removal of the panel’s chairperson Fauzia Wahab, accusing her of adopting a ‘dictatorial style’ to rush through the reformed general sales tax (RGST) law.
The members, belonging to the ANP, MQM, JUI-F, PML-Q and PML-N, submitted a resolution to the speaker of the National Assembly on Friday to remove Ms Wahab, saying she was incapable of running the affairs of the committee in a ‘parliamentary manner’.
An exchange of hot words between the members and the chairperson took place when PML-Q’s Kashmala Tariq wanted to know how much additional revenue the government wanted to generate from the RGST.
Ms Tariq said Minister of State for Revenue Hina Rabbani Khar had not said a word about additional revenue during the three-day proceedings of the committee, but said at a DanwNews programme that Rs22 billion would be generated during the current fiscal year.
She said FBR officials had cited a figure of Rs35 billion over the next six months, while trade, business and agriculture organisations had suggested that the RGST would generate over Rs222 billion.
“If the government is looking for only Rs22 billion, there is no need to put the entire country on fire and burden poor people with more inflation because such an amount can be generated by withdrawing subsidy on fertiliser or improving a loss-making corporation.”
Ms Wahab expunged Ms Tariq’s “un-parliamentary comments” from the proceedings. Ms Tariq asked which objectionable word had she used and other members from the PML-Q, ANP, MQM and PML-N also criticised the chairperson for trying to become “a teacher” and “a dictator”.
At this point, Ms Wahab suddenly adjourned the proceedings and said it was her discretion to expunge any word which she considered un-parliamentary.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N said the chairperson could not adjourn the meeting in such a manner.
“You should resign if you cannot manage the proceedings,” MQM’s Rashid Godil said.
Mr Abbasi later said that the rules did not allow the members to elect a new chairperson and, therefore, they had requested the speaker to appoint a new head of the committee.
Members belonging to the opposition said they would not boycott the proceedings and would vote against the bill.
They alleged that the meeting had been adjourned because none of the PPP’s members had turned up after Friday prayers.
Ms Tariq said most of the members were ready to help the government with a 10 to 12 per cent RGST if it agreed to impose tax on agricultural income.
Talking to journalists, Ms Wahab said the members created a scene when she came an hour late to the meeting.
The committee will meet again on Dec 8.