Wednesday October 20, 2021

‘Details to be shared about every paisa spent from municipal taxes’

September 22, 2021
‘Details to be shared about every paisa spent from municipal taxes’

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has not imposed any new tax on the people of the metropolis, the city’s administrator reiterated while addressing a news conference at the KMC headquarters on Tuesday.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is also the Sindh government’s spokesman and the chief minister’s law adviser, said that around Rs1 billion should ideally be collected in municipal taxes, but the KMC hardly manages to collect Rs2.3 million to Rs2.4 million.

Wahab said that these taxes were imposed back in 2008 when Pak Sarzameen Party Chairman Mustafa Kamal was the city’s mayor. He also said they decided to select an organisation for collecting these taxes that go through the process of audit.

He thanked K-Electric for agreeing to collect the taxes, saying that Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin okayed the decision but other federal ministers and even Sindh Governor Imran Ismail opposed it.

Wahab stressed that he would share the details of expenditure of every paisa of the municipal taxes. He said that competent resources and good intentions were necessary to run any organisation in a better way.

“The KMC is now moving towards reforms, publishing records of estate, land and other departments online to bring transparency and to improve the institution. Instead of crying about powers and authority, I’ll point out that the real issue is intention. No institution can function without financial stability.”

The administrator said that he wanted to do something for this city in accordance with his mandate. He said that they were repeatedly told in the past about the lack of powers. However, he pointed out, it was actually a lack of intention.

“To improve the [financial] situation, the KMC started with the estate department. The rent of the KMC shops used to be Rs50 million annually until a year and a half ago,” said Wahab. ”It has now been increased to Rs150 million. In the first three months of the current financial year alone, over Rs45 million has been received by eliminating the mafia.”

He said that revenue collection from oil tankers and bus terminals has also been started, while the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has been sent a letter about paying its dues of Rs6.5 million. He also said that barely Rs1.5 million is collected in terms of municipal utility tax, but the KMC will now get Rs6 million a month and Rs7.2 billion a year from the collection of Rs200 per consumer through their electricity bills.

“Any future mayor will need the money to run the city. All the details of the collection and expenditure of the municipal utility tax will be made public and nothing will be kept hidden from them.” The administrator said that he had three options: ask the federal government for help, ask the provincial government for help or transform the KMC into an independent organisation.

“Hopefully, the federal government and other agencies will play a positive role in recovering the municipal utility tax on electricity bills, and the courts will decide as per the KMC’s point of view before ordering a stay on the KMC’s revenue matters.”

He said that all the records related to the estate department, the land department, charged parking, parks and terminals have been published on the KMC’s website under the menu of “E-Departments”, so the people can see the progress there.

He also said that Karachi is a port city, and both the ports use the infrastructure of Karachi and the KMC. According to the KPT Act of 1886, the board would pay money every year to the local government.

He added that there are such laws in every port city, but unfortunately, they are not being implemented. He pointed out that for the years 2009 through 2016, the KPT is liable to pay around Rs6.5 million.

“This is the right of Karachi and the KMC, which should be provided,” he demanded. He said that as soon as the collection of municipal taxes was announced, politics began on the decision, with allegations being levelled by those who increase the advance taxes and raise the price of petrol by Rs5 without asking the people.

He thanked KE for agreeing with their decision, lamenting that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s federal ministers and the governor opposed it, terming the opposition unfortunate. “We have to decide whether to run the city through charity or independently.”

Wahab said that Karachi runs the country, and asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to support the city. He said that the Pakistan Peoples Party and its provincial government still have the same stance on the census issue.

Regarding the development works in Karachi, he said that repairs and paving of various roads are being done, and many parks are also being improved, while recreational facilities will be increased. He said fumigation will also be carried out to curb dengue. KMC Metropolitan Commissioner Afzal Zaidi and other officials were also present on the occasion.