Pakistan’s National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a money bill aimed at raising tax revenues to fulfil the demands set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for seeking a $1.1 billion loan facility to avoid an economic meltdown.
The Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2023 or ‘mini-budget’ was approved in the lower lower house of Parliament days after the IMF urged the cash-starved country to take strong measures to avoid getting into a “dangerous place” where its debt needs to be restructured.
The bill increases sales tax from 17 to 25 per cent on luxury items. The general sales tax has been raised from 17 per cent to 18 per cent.
People will also have to pay more for business-class air travel, wedding halls, mobile phones, and sunglasses, Geo News reported.
“The prime minister will also unveil (further) austerity measures in the next few days,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, adding: “We will have to take difficult decisions”.
The bill would help collect the IMF-dictated Pak Rs 170 billion by June end when the current financial year ends.
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The government is in a race against time to implement the tax measures and reach an agreement with the IMF.
The IMF has given a deadline of March 1 to Pakistan for implementing all the measures.
Aftab Sultan, the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, was appointed in July last year for a tenure of three years following the retirement of his predecessor Javed Iqbal.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Sultan submitted his resignation citing “personal reasons.” In an interview with Geo TV, Sultan said he stepped down a few days ago because he asked to do “certain things that were unacceptable to me”.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)