Upper house of parliament: Senate passes amended Ogra bill

ISLAMABAD: On the first day of its new session the Senate passed the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill of 2010. The bill amends some clauses related to the appointment of the chairman regulatory authority.

Under the new law the chairman shall be an eminent professional of known integrity and competence, with a minimum of twenty years of related experience in law, business, engineering, finance, accounting, economics, petroleum, technology, public administration or management.

The National Assembly had already passed the bill and once the president gives his consent it will become a law.

The Election Laws (Amendm-ent) Bill of 2011 was introduced in the house and subsequently sent to the concerned committee. Under the proposed bill, production of computerised national identity card (CNIC) by the voter will be mandatory for the person’s registration as a voter and for casting his/her vote. The proposed law also suggests imprisonment of up to five years or a fine up to five million rupees or both for an employee of the Election Commission who discloses secret information or data.

Advisor to the prime minister on political affairs presented to the House the Federal Public Service Commission’s annual report for the year 2009.

In response to apprehensions expressed by some members on the fate of employees of ministries being devolved to provinces, Adviser to the Prime Minister Mian Raza Rabbani informed the Upper House of parliament that under the 18th Amendment, five ministries had been shifted to provinces and all procedures regarding shifting of their staff and assets to the provinces would be completed by June 30 this year.

He said in the first phase, development projects of five ministries had been transferred, including those being undertaken by local government, special initiatives, youth, zakat and ushr and population welfare ministries.

During the question-hour, Minister of State for Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said that the total number of taxpayers in the country, which has a population of about 180 million, was just over three million. She said that the government was committed to increasing the tax base and was aiming to enhance this figure to 30 per cent of the population to boost revenue collection.

The minister said that so far, the government had borrowed Rs284 billion from the State Bank and other banks during the current financial year. However, the government was trying to bring down local borrowing by enhancing external finances.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2011.


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