Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the secrecy and confidentiality maintained during the recent census has made it more dubious as even if the census figures being publicized now were actually correct, all stakeholders have serious doubts over the credibility of the census data as the entire process has been carried out in a secretive manner.
Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, Chief Minister added at the time of commencement of census, he approached the Ministry of Statistics being headed by Ishaq Dar and advised to publicize the data by sharing a copy of all the details at least with heads of the families who were providing information about the number of family members but we were told that it was a highly confidential data and if we have any issue, a complaint should formally be lodged to the concerned department.
During his visit to Karachi Chamber, Murad Ali Shah was accompanied by some of the key Ministers of Sindh Cabinet including Minister for Industries and Commerce Manzoor Hussain Wassan, Minister for Planning & Development Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani, Minister for Excise & Taxation Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Minister for Local Government Jam Khan Shoro and Minister for Transport & Mass Transit, Labor, Human Resources and Information Nasir Hussain Shah whereas Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairmen BMG & Former Presidents KCCI Zubair Motiwala & Anjum Nisar, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President Muhammad Younus Soomro, forthcoming President KCCI Muffasar Atta Malik, Former President AQ Khalil and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
Referring to the infrastructure issues raised by Karachi Chamber, Chief Minister said that the Sindh government was well cognizant of all these issues and was taking steps to provide relief to the citizens of Karachi. In this regard, a sum of Rs10 billion was allocated last year for the development of Karachi, of which Rs7.5 billion were utilized in different projects which included revamping of Shahrah-e-Faisal and reconstruction of Tariq Road and University Road, Construction of Underpass at Drig Road and many other projects which have either been successfully completed or were nearing completion.
He said that the local government was also given a sum of Rs8 billion for development work but no major project has been completed by them while the performance of Sindh government is in front of everyone. Sindh government was providing sufficient funds as per needs and at the earliest to the local government so that they could smoothly carry out the development work in Karachi which is the economic engine of Pakistan. “We want to work in association with the local government but they must deliver”, he added.
Murad Ali Shah, while accepting Siraj Teli’s invitation to attend an event being staged to mark 20 years Businessmen Group and the work done by PPP for development of Karachi, said that the entire Sindh Cabinet of Pakistan People’s Party will jointly celebrate 20 years of Businessmen Group with 22,000 members of Karachi Chamber. “You people inform us the date for celebrations and inshallah, we all will be there”, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli pointed out that the Federal government, instead of enhancing tax collection through direct taxes, raised the number of indirect taxes and allowed FBR to twist arms of loyal taxpayers, which has resulted in plunging the economy into deep crisis. Slamming the FBR for constantly harassing the business and industrial community, he advised Chairman Sindh Revenue Board Khalid Mehmood and Advisor SRB Mushtaq Kazmi to refrain from introducing such tactics at the SRB which are grossly used by the FBR to further squeeze the existing loyal taxpayers. “Instead of harassing the taxpayers to enhance revenue collection, SRB should demand fair taxes only which, I am sure, the business and industrial community would willingly contribute”, he added.
Referring to imposition of 14 percent Services Sales Tax (SST) which was later reduced to 3 percent, Siraj Teli opined that the rate of Sales Tax on Services was not an issue but the real issue was its applicability as many stakeholders believe that this tax should not be implemented on their businesses. Therefore, the Sindh government under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister should organize a meeting with relevant indenters, travel agents and security service providers to analyze the applicability of SST and decide its fate once and for all as this issue has remained pending since last three years.
Commenting on poor standard of living in Karachi, Chairman BMG said that the living conditions in Karachi have become miserable due to dilapidated roads, unattended trash, broken sewerage lines and severe traffic jams. Meanwhile, the general public is totally confused over the distribution of powers pertaining to civic issues between the Sindh government and city government. “They (the public) usually see Mayor Karachi excusing for being unable to carry out development work because of limited powers and funds. Hence, the Sindh government should publicize the breakup of all the development work falling under the domain of Sindh government and the city government in order to clarify all types of confusions about the working of Sindh government and city government”, he advised.
Referring to the recent census, Siraj Teli demanded that the next general election should only take place upon completion of proper demarcation under the recent census. He was of the opinion that the Election Commission of Pakistan must strictly verify the recent census data and accordingly carry out the demarcation across Pakistan whereas the voting for next general elections should only take place electronically through biometric voting system.
Commenting on Environmental notices being served to industrial units, Siraj Teli said that prior to issuing such notices, the government, relevant ministry and Sindh Environmental Protection Agency should examine the ground realities as it has been observed that notices have been served even to those industrialists who do not have an industrial unit but they just own a piece of land in industrial area.
He asked the Chief Minister to summon DG of Sindh Environmental Protection Agency to seek a clear explanation for constantly harassing the industrialists.
Chairman BMG further requested Chief Minister to bring all members of his cabinet at a grand event which will be organized by Karachi Chamber in the first or second week of October 2017 to celebrate 20 years of Businessmen Group and the work carried out by Pakistan People’s Party in Karachi.
Vice Chairmen BMG Zubair Motiwala, in his remarks, pointed out that hardly 10 percent industries were operating in the industrial zones of Port Qasim, Super Highway, North Karachi and Nooriabad due to unavailability of basic inputs including electricity, gas and water which, if provided, would result in immediately triggering rapid industrialization all these zones and create at least 1,50,000 employment opportunities.
He further stated that funds being gathered through collection of Property Tax are usually granted to District Municipal Corporations (DMCs) for development works but this was not happening in case of Site as this particular area was of different nature where no DMC exists therefore, some other system should be devised for Site area to transfer funds collected under the head of Property Tax so that these funds could be utilized on several development projects. “It is highly unfair to take huge amount of Property Tax from Site Area and don’t invest a single rupee in return which requires attention”, he added.
Earlier, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, in his welcome remarks, stated that the Karachi Chamber fully supports Sindh government’s objections over the results of latest census as the population of Karachi was actually much more and a review should be carried out to ascertain the correct position. President KCCI further said that gas, electricity and water crisis along with dilapidated infrastructure have resulted in raising the cost of doing business and constrained the industrialists to keep their activities limited, resulting in rising poverty and unemployment in Sindh.
Caption: Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli and President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo presenting KCCI’s crest to Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday. Minister for Industries and Commerce Manzoor Hussain Wassan, Minister for Planning & Development Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Minister for local Government Jam Khan Shoro, Minister for Transport & Mass Transit and Labour Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Minister for Excise & Taxation Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Vice Chairmen BMG M. Zubair Motiwala and Anjum Nisar, Senior Vice President Asif Nisar, Vice President Muhammad Younus Soomro, former President A.Q. Khalil and former Senior Vice President Muffasar Atta Malik are also seen in the picture.