Tuesday September 27, 2022

More political parties reject collection of municipal tax through KE bills

By Our Correspondent
September 18, 2022

The backlash against the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Sindh government’s decision to collect municipal charges from the people of Karachi through the K-Electric’s (KE) power bills did not relent on Saturday as various political parties opposed the move in strong words.

MWM’s opposition

In a statement, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) Sindh Information Secretary Ali Ahmar Zaidi said the provincial government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was only focused on tax collection from Karachi while the infrastructure of the city had been completely destroyed.

For the past 30 years, the ruling parties had been fleecing the people of Karachi but they were unable to provide basic amenties to the public, he remarked.

“The MWM rejects the inclusion of municipal tax in electricity bills. We believe that the monopoly formed by the Sindh government, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and K- Electric for extra tax collection is nothing but an anti-public campaign,” Zaidi said.

He maintained that everyone was aware of the fact that PPP MPAs and MNAs were involved in financial embezzlement and when such was the situation, public would not pay more taxes. He went on to say that it seemed the only job left for the provincial government was to eliminate the lower income classes by imposing new and strange taxes.

Zaidi said the citizens of Karachi had been facing hours-long unannounced power cuts. If the government was concerned to provide relief to the people, it should have ended the load-shedding, he added.

The new municipal tax was similar to extortion as the federal government had a few months back imposed a new tax in the name of fuel adjustment in electricity bills. “The MWM demands that the government have mercy on the people and give some relief to the people deprived of basic facilities. The additional taxes included in the bills should be abolished immediately.”

PSP flays PPP govt

Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal in a statement said that the people of Karachi would not pay extortion money in the name of municipal tax to the KE.

The inclusion of new taxes could spark violent protests against the provincial government, he warned, stating that the PPP’s alliance with the KE was endangering the peace of Karachi.

Kamal alleged that the PPP government was imposing new taxes to embezzle the taxpayers’ money. Instead of holding the power utility accountable, the PPP government had colluded with it to rob the citizens of Karachi, he said.

“If the public elected the PSP, the party would not allow the KE to cheat and rob the public. We can diagnose every problem of this city and only we have to fix this city,” the PSP chief said. To end the tyranny of KE, licences for generation and transmission of electricity should be issued to various companies,” Kamal opined.

JUI-F’s criticism

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sindh spokesperson Maulana Samiul Haq Swati said the provincial government had turned the city into ruins. The people of Karachi were paying heavy taxes but no one knew where the public funds were being spent, he added.

If the government spent the already allocated fund with honesty, around 90 per cent of the problems being faced by the people of Karachi would be resolved, Swati said, adding that the inclusion of municipal taxes in bills could not be justified as people were deprived of basic facilities.

The JUI-F condemned the inclusion of municipal tax in the electricity bills, he declared. He asked the Sindh government to revise its decision as the public were facing high inflation and new municipal taxes would aggravate their misery.

A day earlier on Friday, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman rejected the inclusion of municipal utility charges and taxes (MUCT) in electricity bills and demanded that the authorities reverse the development on an immediate basis.

Rehman termed the Sindh government’s decision a cruel step against the masses, saying that the government was twisting the arms of already marooned Karachiites. He said that the PPP regime was abusing its powers by its excessive usage against the masses by badly neglecting its obligation for self-accountability. He demanded of the government to make the report public about the expenditure of funds collected through power bills, adding that the power supply company has so far collected Rs70 billion from Karachiites in the name of electricity duty during the past 15 years.

The JI Karachi chief said the federal and provincial governments had been supporting the KE in illegally overcharging the citizens, and the company had failed in discharging its purpose of inception or privatisation was blessed by the two governments for collection of multiple and illogical taxes. He demanded of the government reverse the decision and asked for a forensic audit of the power utility.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly, Khurrum Sher Zaman, on Friday 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.

The PTI MPA was of the view that since the people had not reacted to their fleecing tactics, the federal and provincial governments were coming up with new ways to take money from them.

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 on Friday. 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.