At-source deduction: Sindh CM to raise the issue at CCI meeting today

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the at source deduction of over Rs 6 billion by FBR is unconstitutional and illegal, therefore he will raise this issue at the CCI meeting that is being held in Islamabad today, and in case the matter is not resolved there, his government will file a case in the court.

He said this presiding over a preparatory meeting for the CCI moot, at the CM House, here on Thursday. Sindh Minister for Information Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Minister for Law Zia Lanjar, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Advocate General Zameer Ghumro, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, provincial secretaries and other concerned officers attended the meeting.

Reacting to a report presented by Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi about at source deduction made by FBR in terms of withholding tax on vehicles, the chief minister said that it was illegal and against the spirit of the agreement between Sindh government and the State Bank of Pakistan.

Naqvi told the meeting that the FBR had deducted over Rs 6.2 billion during 2015-16 and recently it had deducted Rs 292 million from Sindh government’s account [of Excise & taxation Department] in the head of withholding tax imposed on vehicles.

Murad Shah said that he would take up this issue at the CCI meeting and would try to settle it there, otherwise Sindh government would file a constitutional petition in the court for which he issued necessary directives to Advocate General Zameer Ghumro.

The items on the agenda of the CCI meeting included: National Water Policy, short supplies of water in Pat Feeder and Khirthar Canals, allocation of additional 1200 cusecs of water for Karachi (K-IV), post-devolution status of EOBI, Workers Welfare Fund and matters pertaining to the higher education, import of LNG, National Forest Policy and senior citizens privileges.

The chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of Irrigation on National Water Policy, said he wanted to secure katcha areas, their economy and preservation of delta area with the provision of sufficient supplies of irrigation water regularly. He said that there should be an arrangement for disposal of rain water in plains when it could not be disposed of or diverted to river.

He said he would support the formation of National Water Commission for resolution of water disputes if chief ministers are appointed its chairman on rotation basis. Murad Shah said that the Balochistan government was claiming monetary compensation on account of short supplies of water. He clarified Sindh government never stopped water meant for Balochistan or cut its share. The claim was not justified, he said.

The chief minister said that 83 outlets were taken out from Guddu Barrage Command, which divert Sindh’s water to Balochistan and that was above the share of Balochistan. On allocation of 1200 cusecs additional water for Karachi City (K-IV Project), the chief minister said that its provision was mentioned in the 1991 Water Accord. “Present requirement and allocation is 1200 cusecs, requirement by 2020 will be 1800 cusecs while it will be 2400 cusecs by 2025,” he said, adding that he would make all out efforts to approve the request because Karachi is mini Pakistan and people from all other provinces live here.

The meeting was told that the provincial assembly had passed the Sindh Senior Citizens Welfare Bill, 2014, in April 2016. Sindh government has a plan to construct old-age and senior citizens homes in Karachi under ADP at the cost Rs 75.2 million.

Minister for Information and Labour Nasir Shah briefed the chief minister on post-devolution status of Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and Workers Welfare Fund (WWF). He said that the Sindh government had got passed EOBI, WWF and Sindh Companies Profits (Workers Participation) Act. The Workers Welfare Board was notified and collection of the contribution was entrusted to SRB which has collected Rs 3.017 billion up to May 2017. He requested the chief minister to urge CCI to stop collecting WWF in Sindh province because FBR is still collecting WWF.

Nasir Shah also requested the chief minister to urge CCI to approve the transfer of WWF and EOBI assets and schemes of WWF to Sindh government. He said that there are 1914 different schemes of flats, hospitals and schools of WWF which should be handed over to Sindh.

Secretary Energy Agha Wasif briefed the chief minister about the plan to provide gas to villages located within five kilometres of the gas field. He said that under the scheme, 437 villages would be gasified against Rs 3.590 billion. The Sindh government would have to pay Rs 2.8 billion of the said amount. On this the chief minister said that according to the Supreme Court judgement in a relevant case and the prime minister’s directives, the federal government/SSGCL were bound to bear all the expenses. Therefore, he would raise this issue at the CCI meeting. The Sindh government would take up its earlier stance about higher education commission that it has become provincial subject after the 18th Constitution amendment.