Number plates bearing names and castes of people are illegal, according to Minister for Excise and Taxation, Mukesh Kumar Chawla.
Responding to questions by legislators in Sindh Assembly on Wednesday, the minister said that the Excise Department was not issuing special licence for personalized number plates against the payment of a fee.
However, he said, it was the responsibility of the traffic police to take action against the people whose cars carried personalized number plates.
In response to a question by Humera Alwani, the minister said an inquiry conducted by Chief Minister’s Inspection Team (CMIT) revealed that around 24 employees of the Excise Department were involved in embezzlement of Rs50.5 million in connivance with the employees of the National Bank of Pakistan.
He said show-cause notices had been issued against these employees and legal action would be taken against them on receipt of their replies. He said they had asked the Finance Department to look into this matter.
Chawla said under directives of the chief minister, another inquiry was being going on into allegations that the Motor Vehicle Tax had not been deposited in the national exchequer for the last two years.
MOONSHINE: Responding to another question by the same legislator, the minister said they recovered around 12,772 litres of moonshine last year and registered 75 cases.
The issue of moonshine that sometimes led to death of people elicited interest of several legislators with some of them suggesting reducing the prices of foreign alcohol to end the menace of moonshine while others recommending a ban on all kinds of alcohol on account of health and faith.
Sharjeel Memon said the poor men consuming moonshine tended to suffer six months in jail when got arrested while no such action was being taken against those who take alcohol at the five-star hotels and clubs.
He asked why this double standard persisted.
Chawla said the hotels had permission for providing alcohol to foreigners to which Memon said mostly locals consumed it.
When Ghulam Mohammed Shahliani said that moonshine was considered “illicit liquor” and wondered whether foreign alcohol was “legal” to which the minister said alcohol was “permissible” for some while it was illegal for others.
Mehboob Talpur said the people consumed moonshine because foreign alcohol was expensive and suggested that the price of alcohol should be reduced, thus saving the lives of the people.
Nuzhat Pathan said licences had been issued for wine shops for non-Muslims, but mostly Muslims were found at these shops.
Shamim Ara Panhwar asked when moonshine was poisonous and a serious health risk, why it was available in the market.
When the revenue minister, Jam Mehtab, said that all kinds of alcohol was “poisonous” and hazardous for health, Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, in a light vein, said, “Thank you for informing us of the health hazards of alcohol.”
Anwar Mahar said that consuming wine was not permissible in all faiths and added that it should be banned for all.
Health minister, Dr Sagheer Ahmed, said dozes of moonshine cases resulted in death. He said when such cases were referred to hospitals, concerned police surgeons approached the police for legal proceedings.
UNREGISTERED DUMPERS: The Excise minister informed the legislature that there were around 20,000 unregistered dumpers in the province.
He recalled that the then military ruler, Gen. Ziaul Haq, had promulgated an ordinance in 1984, allowing these dumpers to ply the roads without registration and giving any duty in the wake of the Afghan war.
He disclosed that the excise department had recently moved a summary to the law department to get these dumpers registered.
He said they were also trying to register the “Chinese” rickshaws.
MQM’s Khalid Ahmed said that the dumpers were not only involved in destruction of the roads but their reckless drivers were also contributing towards law and order problem through fatal casualties.
Responding to a question by Arif Jatoi, Chawla admitted that even doctors and population welfare officials were working in Excise department on deputation and OPS but added that they were trying to send them back to their departments.
Jatoi expressed his surprise as to why the CM’s directives for ending OPS and deputation were not being implemented.
The opposition leader, Jam Madad said the concerned minister should resist this tendency.
PML-F legislator, Marvi Rashdi, said it appeared that the minister was helpless.
The PAC chairman Jam Tamachi said tendency of deputation and OPS had engulfed the province like the flood.
He said it was also undermining the credibility of the government and called for ending it.
Chawla said the number of employees working on deputation and OPS had been high in his department in the past, but he had reduced it.
Chawla said revenue collected from registration of new vehicles had been reduced because of low purchase of the vehicles.
Jam Tamachi said the imported vehicles were relatively cheap but assemblers here got ban on their import in order to sell their products expensively.
He called for reducing the import duty on vehicles so that the people could purchase cheaper cars. The minister admitted that this was a good suggestion.