In response to Karachi Chamber’s suggestion, Mayor Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Waseem Akhtar agreed to form a liaison committee between KMC and KCCI to look into the civic issues of Karachi and accordingly give recommendations for resolving the same on priority basis. Speaking at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Waseem Akhtar nominated Deputy Mayor KMC Dr. Arshad Vohra as focal person for KMC-KCCI Liaison Committee whereas at least four to five representatives from Karachi Chamber will also be part of the said committee.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Deputy Mayor KMC Dr. Arshad Vohra, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, Former Presidents KCCI AQ Khalil and Younus Muhammad Bashir, Chairman Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon and KCCI Managing Committee members were present on the occasion.
Mayor KMC Waseem Akhtar admitted that they made many mistakes in the past but instead of arguing further and blaming each other for these mistakes, it’s high time to look forward and work sincerely for the betterment of Karachi. He was of the view that city governments around the world are most powerful but unfortunately in case of Karachi, the city government is very weak due to lack of powers. “We delivered in the past when city government had powers and we once again demand these powers, particularly the administrative and financial powers otherwise we will not be able to deliver”, he added.
Referring to concerns expressed by meeting participants over the notices received for payment of exorbitant taxes of the last 7 to 8 years retrospectively, he assured to look into this matter and come up with a feasible solution by holding consultation with concerned stakeholders.
Seeking Karachi Chamber’s support to resolve the civic issues of Karachi, Mayor KMC presented a document carrying numerous proposals on how KCCI and KMC can work together to improve the poor standard of living in Karachi. “We don’t need funds from the business community but we want you people to come forward and support us by owning some of KMC’s assets including schools, parks, hospitals and dispensaries etc.”, he added.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, in his remarks, said that it was really unfortunate that all political parties of Sindh including PPP, MQM, ANP or any other party do not bother to look beyond their party matters, which was the basic reason why Karachi city continues to suffer. “We, at KCCI, only supported those politicians who strived for the betterment of Karachi and always vocally opposed those who failed to do anything for this city”, Siraj Teli said, “Even in the past, the coalition government of PPP, MQM and ANP kept enjoying massive powers and they also had sufficient funds but none of them bothered to undertake development work in Karachi. At that point in time, the law and order situation was also very bad and KCCI kept raising its voice by accusing all three political parties for rising lawlessness, which resulted in upsetting all of them. Although none of these parties were willing to take steps to improve law and order situation but somehow whether willingly or unwillingly, all of them mutually agreed to initiate Karachi Operation in 2013 which yielded positive results as criminal activities nowadays have reduced by around 70 to 80 percent except for street crimes. Similarly, all political parties, nowadays, were once again responsible for creating issues pertaining to local government and it seems that nobody was willing to surrender their powers or work together but the fact remains that it is the Karachiites who continue to suffer badly due to such an attitude.
He pointed out that escalated bills and notices pertaining to demand for taxes were only being sent to further loot the citizens who were already being harassed and looted at the federal level by FBR and at the provincial level by SRB and now the local government has also started doing the same.
The local government, obviously, requires funds to initiate development work but the system being used to enhance revenue by imposing exorbitant taxes was faulty which has to be rectified, he advised. He said that FBR, SRB and local government should levy taxes but a system should be devised to avoid dual taxation. Secondly, at least 60 to 70 percent of the taxes should be used in development and be visible on the ground which would surely provide huge relief to Karachiites but unfortunately, it was not happening at all.
He further advised the Mayor to start off from petty development projects, particularly road patch work, which if done would provide huge relief to the citizens who suffer daily on the streets of Karachi. “The existing staff, limited funds and other available resources should be utilized on patch work. We expect from MQM, which is a major political party of Karachi, to deliver within the limited powers and resources which would surely help in regaining the confidence of business and industrial community.
He demanded a clear-cut commitment from the Mayor that whatever development work was under his control despite limited powers, should be visible from the very next day.
Earlier President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, while welcoming the Mayor, said that Karachiites and the business & industrial community expects a lot from the Mayor within a very limited time of just a year as Election will be held in 2018 which will decide the fate of political parties, depending on their performance.
He said that the entire attention of federal government remains confined to the province of Punjab, particularly Lahore whereas Karachi city, which contributes a huge sum of more than 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer, was constantly being ignored, resulting in intensifying the hardships for Karachiites who continue to suffer badly on the streets every day. Shamim Firpo also demanded strict action against corrupt officers to City government who have been sending notices to pay numerous taxes and harassing the small traders with a single intention to only seek bribe and nothing was being submitted to the local government’s kitty.