The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has come under fire after authorising the K-Electric to collect municipal charges from the people of Karachi through power bills. Various political parties have rejected the Sindh government and KMC’s move, calling it an effort to fleece the people of Karachi.
Addressing a ceremony at the KPT headquarters on Friday, KMC Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who also serves as the spokesperson for the Sindh Government and adviser to the chief minister on law, said the Karachi Port Trust had paid the KMC Rs230 million in form of municipal tax. Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Faisal Subzwari was also present on the occasion.
Wahab said the payment of Rs230 million in the form of municipal tax would help make the KMC financially stable. "This amount will be spent on development of Karachi. The construction of an elevated expressway from the ICI Bridge to Y Junction is about to kick off at a cost of Rs14 billion,” he added.
KPT Chairman Syed Muhammad Tariq Huda, Additional Secretary Maritime Affairs Asad Rafi Chandna, KMC Municipal Commissioner Syed Afzal Zaidi, Finance Adviser Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto and other officers also attended the ceremony.
In his address, Subzwari remarked that the KPT had decided in principle that whatever amount it owed to the KMC, it should be paid to the municipality. He said the decision was taken for the development and improvement of Karachi.
Wahab said that no institution could run without taxation and the development of Karachi would actually develop the KPT as it was an important institution of the city. He appreciated Subzwari and Huda for the payment.
Regarding the collection of municipality utility charges and tax (MUCT) through the electricity bills, the KMC administrator said this was not a new tax and it was being collected since 2009. The KMC, he said, had reduced MUCT instead of increasing it. "A tax ranging from Rs50 to Rs200 will be collected,” he said adding that earlier, Rs5,000 per unit was used to be collected from industrial zones. Wahab explained that in the past, the tax received in the form of municipal charges would go into the pockets of officers and staff, but now the K-Electric (KE) would give this tax to the KMC and it would be in the form of a cheque that would be deposited in the KMC account.
In response to a question, he said that some people were trying to create an issue in connection with the municipal taxes. He added that the KMC had only 14,000 employees and he did not recruit even a single person so far during his tenure.
MQM-P condemns move
Reacting to the collection of MUCT through power bills, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) said it condemned the move as it meant to extort money from the people of Karachi.
Even in the severe inflation, Karachi was running the entire country like a revenue engine, read a statement issued by the party.
The MQM-P said that the people of Karachi had to pay the most for using electricity compared to the rest of the country, and they were deprived of even basic facilities. The statement asked why the provincial government exclusively thought of Karachi when it came to collecting money. The MQM-P said it would oppose the decision on every forum.
‘Fleecing the public’
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly, Khurrum Sher Zaman, said the ‘imported government’ wanted to fleece the people and so it had decided to include municipal charges in the power bills.
He added that the public was already suffering high inflation but the government wanted to increase their burden. “We reject the inclusion of municipal tax in electricity bills. Until the public come out on the streets against this decision, the government would keep increasing the electricity bills,” he said.