SINDH DESERVES BETTER TREATMENT
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Sep 07 - 13, 2009
Be it the distribution of funds on the basis of population or revenue generated, Sindh certainly deserves a better treatment. Among the provinces it contributes the highest towards the national exchequer. Its population is grossly understated because millions of people who have been issued identity cards live in the province and use its services but when it comes to distribution of resources their share goes to their respective provinces.
Karachi is the provincial capital and also the hub of industrial and commercial activities. It is also the highest contributor to the national exchequer in all the categories i.e. import duty, sales tax and income tax. As regards taxes falling in the domain of provincial taxes it also contributes lion's share, the biggest being motor vehicle tax and property tax.
However, when the question comes to its share 'the big brother always takes away bulk of the funds by understating its population as well as on the basis that less developed areas need funds because they do not have regular and substantial sources of revenue'.
According to some estimates motor vehicle tax collected in Karachi is sufficient to meet the expenses of City District Government Karachi. CDGK's current budget envisages expenditures of about Rs55 billion.
Other taxes i.e. income tax, sales tax, property tax are on top of this. Similarly, taxes paid by the industrial units located at SITE, Landhi, Korangi, F.B. Area and Bin Qasim industrial area also run into billions of rupees.
Sindh has also emerged as one of the largest producers of oil and gas. It also has two of the ports being used for international trade. If NWFP has a right to demand royalty on hydropower generation, Sindh should also be given royalty on oil and gas and the two ports located in the province. For decades, because of government's attempt to keep POL prices same throughout the country, people have been bearing the cost being paid from 'Freight Pool'.
In an attempt to diminish the importance of Sindh in general and Karachi in particular various 'Duty Free Zones' were established in Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan. Despite all the odds, the share of Sindh remains the highest in large and medium scale industries. All the automotive assembly plants, with the exception of one and large pharmaceutical manufacturing factories, are located in the province.
Interestingly, the federation wants to control coal reserves of Sindh but is not willing to finance construction of infrastructure to facilitate coal mining in Thar. The present regime must recall that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto has performed the ground breaking ceremony of a coal-based power plant in Thar in early nineties but the project has not become a reality as yet.
It is often said that Sindh has become the biggest opponent of construction of mega size dams in the country. It is also said that 30 million acre feet (MAF) water which is being dumped into the sea should be stopped. However, the proponents fail to understand the law of nature that if a certain minimum quantity of water is not allowed to fall into sea, the sea water intrudes into the cultivable delta land. This has been happening over the years. Similarly, Indus riverbed after the Kotri Bridge has sand dunes but hardly any water.
Punjab is demanding distribution of resources on the basis of population but it did not agree to the same when East Pakistan raised this demand. Even at present billions of rupees are paid as subsidy from the national exchequer on import of fertilizer, wheat and sugar. Aren't bulks of these commodities consumed in Punjab because it inhabits a large population?
The voice of Sindh must be heard because its water is often stolen by Punjab in the name of smooth operation of hydropower plants but when PEPCO sells electricity to the KESC the tariff being charged is not justified. Some of the people even go to the extent of saying that Hubco power plant was established to meet Karachi's demand but was 'hijacked' by Wapda to fulfill electricity demand of Punjab.
Similarly, the grudge of Balochistan needs patient listening. Natural gas was discovered in Balochistan but the province could not benefit from this for decades and the same is also said about Gwadar port. According to media reports one of the berth of the port was severely damaged but the matter was hushed up. Some of the critics say the way Gwadar port issues are being handled, trade and industry would not like to use the facility as they may find it uneconomical.
It is on record that when ships carrying fertilizer are diverted to Gwadar port, not only the TCP has to bear extra handling charges but dispatch of fertilizer is at poor rate because the road linking Gwadar port to upper parts of the country is incapable of catering 60 feet trawlers. As a result timely delivery of urea to farmers is not possible despite government paying billions of rupees subsidy.
Last but not the least, it is said that the Sindh's representatives sitting at the NFC have not been able to plead its case effectively and efficiently. Therefore, it has become the duty of all those living in Sindh to join hands to protect the interest of the province. No one should be allowed to usurp the rights of the people living in the province. In Sindh millions of people from other provinces live and earn their living but when it comes to investing they prefer to invest in their hometowns. Can they justify this habit?
NADRA PROMOTING SPORTS
National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is to start a new era in sporting activities in country by verifying the age of under 18 hockey players participating in National Junior Hockey Championship in Karachi.
There has always been suspicion over age of some players participating in such tournaments at regional and national level. Verification of the players' ages from national database would make the player selection transparent for such tournaments.
NADRA also the main sponsor of this tournament, has been actively promoting sports and healthy activities across the country to encourage the players.
10 teams from Karachi / Sindh / Pakistan are participating in the tournament which has started on Tuesday, 1st September 2009 at Pakistan Hockey Stadium Karachi. After the verification of 210 players, 15 players have been rejected from the tournament. The verification has completed before the start of the tournament.