Islamabad, June 15, 2021: Condemning the provision 203A, which gives the FBR powers to arrest and prosecute without warrant in the Finance Bill, at the Senate Finance Revenue & Economic Affairs Committee meeting, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “On one hand we are being told that FBR powers are being curtailed and on the other, it is being made into a mini NAB through this provision. I reject this Finance bill provision which is a mini martial law by stealth. The power to arrest without warrant is draconian and unprecedented. Now the finance minister will be able to authorise an arrest minus warrant. No doubt that tax evasion needs to be countered and the direct taxation net needs to be expanded but this is certainly not the way. The question is that why is FBR being given the powers to arrest without warrant? Senate had unanimously rejected provision 203A and this must be removed from the Finance Bill”.
The committee endorsed Senator Sherry Rehman’s demand and collectively decided to remove provision 203A.
Talking about the supplementary grant, she said, “Supplementary grant in the Finance Bill is for emergencies. The government is asking the Parliament to give post-facto approval to a record Rs1.248 trillion supplementary grants for expenditure overruns and re-appropriation, budget documents show. This makes no sense. Rs545 billion had been regularised last year and now 130% higher supplementary grants are being presented for approval. This surely raises a question on the processes leading to budget estimates and expenditures”.
Pointing out the absence of Minister and Secretary Finance Senator Sherry Rehman said, “We must be informed on how many Senate recommendations are being approved since last year none of our recommendations were accepted. It is our right to know which of our recommendations have been accepted and which have been rejected. Today is the first meeting of this committee and both, Minister of Finance and the Secretary are not present. Notice must be taken of this. Have they informed the committee of their absence?” she asked.
Senator Sherry Rehman and other members of the committee walked out in protest.
Later speaking on a point of order in the Senate, Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman raised the issue of 203A in the House and said, “This harsh provision is an assault on the fundamental rights via the Finance Bill. The government should not add such drastic provisions in the Bill”.