Ch Nisar

2,000 blue passports cancelled: Nisar

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly (NA) on Monday debated the consumer price list, blue and green passports, identity cards, tax collection and loan write-offs.

Responding to Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarian (PPP-P) lawmaker Shazia Sobia on the implementation of consumer price list, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentarian Marriyum Aurangzeb said that recently 1,380 shops were fined and 30 shopkeepers arrested. Responding to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl’s (JUI-F) Naeema Kishwar Khan, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the process of applying for a fresh or renewing existing passports an online biometric system is being worked upon and for which a software is currently under development and asserted that soon the system will be put in force.

For the information of the lower house, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan clarified that although the online passport system was initially opposed but as he maintained his stance that if United States of America (USA) can issue visas through internet despite all the security risks then why not Pakistan the system was given a go. Khan believes that the system will go online countrywide by April 2016 reminding that 83 foreign missions of Pakistan are currently using the machine readable passports and they too will offer the same service through the internet by April. He said this measure has been taken for eliminating the fake passport business.

Responding to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislator Arif Alvi’s claim that those in possession of blue passports have to wait for a longer time to get the visas stamped compared to with those having green, Nisar Ali Khan said, “The previous two governments distributed the blue passports like candies, which resulted in cases of human smuggling where blue passports were used.” Khan said that his ministry has cancelled 2,000 blue passports issued to people who failed to qualify. He said the current government in its two and a half years has issued the blue passports to only those who qualified for it on merit, reminding the house that ministers have the authority of relaxing the rules for giving out the passports so that public interests are kept intact.

He asked the House for detailing as to what public interests are under consideration when personal assistants and non-government servant were issued blue passports. Khan further clarified that efforts will be taken for making sure that females are able to apply for their passports especially in regions whereby they find it difficult to interact by introducing female counters. Khan said that a hundred thousand fake identity cards and hundreds of passports have been blocked. He said that there is no discriminatory policy at passport offices countrywide.

Responding to PTI’s Shireen Mehrunnisa Mazari’s question as to why the tax base was not enhanced when there was a tax collection failure, PML-N’s Rana Afzal Khan said, “There has been an average growth of 33% in tax collection over two years, the tax base has at least been enhanced by 40% with a growth in direct taxes.” With PPP-P Nafisa Shah interfering for clarifying further, Rana Afzal Khan said, “The fall in revenue has been because of falling fuel premiums in international market despite which there has been a 16.9% growth in revenue during the first 5 months of the current fiscal year.”

He said that only those areas have been taxed which will not lay any further burden over the poor masses reminding that Rs 27 billion tax revenue will be distributed among the provinces. He said that in July the revenue from direct taxes was Rs 58 billion while it rose further to Rs 60 billion in August. Responding to PTI’s Asad Umar’s allegation that the high targets not met were thrice revised and reduced aims, Rana Afzal Khan clarified that there was a fall in overall tax collection last year which shrunk the tax base. He said that in the current year there was a Rs 40 billion shortfall but that the government is working on fine tuning the process.

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