“As a nation, we have to thwart sinister designs of the terrorists and the Government would play its part in eliminating these elements”. He made these remarks during the Federal Cabinet meeting held under his chairmanship today.
Keeping in mind the sanctity of the Holy month of Moharrum-ul-Haraam, the Prime Minister said that he has directed Law Enforcing Agencies of all the provinces to further beef up security arrangements, keep a vigilant eye and evolve mechanism to maintain peace and harmony. He also said that the Federal Government would extend all possible assistance to the provincial governments and all possible measures will be taken for improvement in Law and Order situation in Karachi.
In this regard the Prime Minister requested the people of Karachi to keep an eye on suspicious activities of miscreants and inform the Law Enforcing Agencies about any such activity. He also urged the Ulema and the religious scholars to play their role in bringing peace to the city.
The Prime Minister condemned the suicide attack on Rangers Head Quarter in Karachi and the Cabinet expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives in this cowardly act of terrorism. The Cabinet was informed that concerned authorities have been directed to provide best medical facilities to the injured.
The Minister for Interior briefed the Cabinet over the situation in Karachi. The Cabinet expressed serious concerns over the law and order situation in Karachi and directed the Ministry of Interior to make a detailed presentation to the Cabinet in its next meeting and suggest concrete proposals.
The Cabinet congratulated President Barack Obama on his re-election as the President of the United States for a second term. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan and United States have common bilateral interests and shared regional objectives of peace, security and stability and expressed the hope that as partners in a shared enterprise, we would be able to continue to pursue our collective goals to the mutual benefit of both our countries.
The Prime Minister also apprised the Cabinet about his visit to Laos to attend Asia Europe Meeting Summit where important regional matters were discussed with a number of world leaders. He said that the event was very important and was attended by leaders of Asia and Europe. The focus of this Summit was on, “socio-economic issues and how to tackle them”. The world leaders were apprised of the challenges being faced by Pakistan and how these are being coped with.
The Prime Minister further said that in this Summit he has apprised the world leaders of unfortunate misuse of freedom of expression, causing misunderstanding between followers of various religions. He added that he informed them that this trend is being seen as another kind of extremism that is neither desirable nor welcomed. All religions teach tolerance and accommodation. There is a need to inculcate and promote respect for these values.
The Prime Minister said that he also informed the world leaders about Pakistan’s efforts to improve human rights situation in the country, including that of women’s lot and protection of rights of minorities and Pakistan’s desire of peace in the region especially in Afghanistan was also discussed. The role of the present government in strengthening institutions and democracy in the country was discussed during the meeting. The world leaders appreciated our resolve to hold free and fair elections, the Prime Minister added.
The Cabinet discussed and accorded its approval to the proposed amendment in Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 (FERA, 1947) and the Land Surveying and Mapping Bill – 2012.
In order to avoid any legal complication of important terrorism cases under trial, the Cabinet approved, subject to vetting by the Ministries of Law and Human Rights, the Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill, 2012. Necessary provisions have been incorporated for the protection of witnesses and juvenile accused persons in the proposed bill.
The Cabinet considered and approved amendments in the Customs Act 1969, Sales Tax Act 1990, Income Tax Ordinance 2001 and Federal Excise Act 2005 to register non-tax filers to the tax net.
The Cabinet was informed that a significant segment of Pakistan’s economy is undocumented. The growing size of the underground economy is not only depriving the national exchequer of its due share but is also acting as a hindrance for economic planning and development. A large number of businesses and individuals who are regularly filing their Income Tax returns are avoiding their legal obligations by either under-declaring or not correctly declaring their assets or income. On the other hand, a large number of businesses and individuals who are required to be registered with the FBR and to regularly file their Income Tax returns are avoiding their legal obligations. FBR along with NADRA has data about the multiple bank accounts, travels, assets and other details of these non-filers. Based on this data two tax incentive schemes are being proposed by FBR. The past attempts by FBR to register them failed as the FBR field units unfortunately compromised the data.
The Cabinet was informed that the Tax Registration Enforcement Initiative, 2012 has been devised to attempt through a simple scheme which will be administered through Banks along with NADRA under proposed section 120B of Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to register and bring into tax net these non-filers of tax returns. A fixed tax is proposed and provides cover to undeclared income/assets upto Rs.5 Million.
The Cabinet was informed that the Investment Tax Scheme, 2012 is being proposed to be enacted under authority given in the section 120A of Income Tax Ordinance 2001, which will attempt through a simple scheme to provide a mechanism and cover to regular filers in addition to non filers of income tax returns to declare undeclared income assets/expenditure upto the value of Rs.5 Million by payment of token tax and additional assets/income by payment of Investment tax as per proposed slab. The scheme will be administered through establishing special counters with the help of Banks along with NADRA.
The Secretary, Revenue Division informed the Cabinet that both the schemes may not be taken as a safety net for those who have not complied with tax laws but as a trampoline which will provide buoyancy to the national economy and deepen and broaden the tax base. The persons availing the schemes shall also have immunity under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1974, Companies Ordinance 1984 and Foreign Exchange Ordinance, 2002. These schemes have been fine tuned based on discussions and feed backs from tax bar associations and trade bodies and the field units. It is also planned to launch an organized awareness campaign to bring it to the notice of the potential declarants. It is also proposed to provide an effective alternative dispute resolution mechanism in all tax laws to settle the protracted legal disputes. The proposed schemes are likely to enlist 13 lac new tax payers, the Cabinet was informed.
The Cabinet accorded ex-post facto approval to start negotiations and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Foreign Service Academy of Pakistan and the Diplomatic Academy of Chile.
The Cabinet also considered and approved the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012.
Earlier the Cabinet offered fateha over the sad demise of former Law Minister Syed Iqbal Haider and father of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.