NA: (Online registration, issuance of passport from April next year: NA told)

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Monday that online registration and issuance of passport would begin from April next year.

This was stated by Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan while responding to a question in the National Assembly. He said initially online system would be introduced within the country and at a later stage it would be expanded to cover other countries as well.

Presently, 83 Pakistani missions abroad are issuing machine readable passports. He said somewhere in the middle of next year, online applications for passports would be received by our missions abroad.

He said the discretionary power of the Interior Minister to relax rules for issuance of Blue Passports was misused in the past and the present Government cancelled two thousand passports on the questionable excuse of public interest.

Ch Nisar said online application and issuance of national identity cards has already begun but the process would take few months more to consolidate. He said hundreds of thousands of fake identity cards have been revoked and action taken against officials concerned of NADRA.

Replying to a supplementary about blocking of identity cards, the minister said a Committee consisting of members representing different parliamentary parties would be formed to sort out the issue with NADRA.

Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Mohammad Afzal told the House that the number of tax payers has gone up from 711000 to over one million during the last two years.

He said tax collection has also gone up by 644 billion rupees during this period, representing an increase of 33%. He said collection of direct taxes is also significantly high during the current financial year as compared to corresponding months in the last financial year.

To another question, he said targets of the first five months of the current financial year were missed mainly due to the low growth in the collection of sales tax because of huge decline in prices of POL products.

He informed the House that loans worth $ 24.844 billion are payable by the country to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development.

He said net domestic loans borrowed by the present government are about Rs 2760 billion. Debt servicing on these loans is Rs 650 billion. The Parliamentary Secretary said over Rs 78 billion worth of loans were written-off by all banks and Development Financial Institutions during the last five years.

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