KARACHI, April 21: While the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) is facing a serious financial crisis, it does not want to expand its revenue base by charging a fee from each and every candidate contesting the May 11 general elections for using its space, installations for their publicity, it emerged on Sunday.

Sources said that despite facing a severe financial crisis due to which it could not be able to pay salaries to its employees regularly, the KMC high-ups were uninterested in even exploring the possibility to supplement its income.

They said that the electioneering generated major economic activity that created many temporary jobs and gave a boost to businesses.

Almost all political parties as well as independent candidates hoist their flags and paste and display their banners and posters on different KMC installations — poles, pedestrian bridges, buildings, walls, billboards, etc, — and each and every candidate could be charged a publicity fee for using the KMC space, buildings and installations, said the sources.

The sources said that it was not a new idea as the KMC was already charging a good amount of money annually from all outdoor advertisers who were using KMC space to advertise/display their products.

In a statement, KMC’s Sajjan Union (CBA) chief Zulfiqar Shah had urged the KMC to look into this opportunity and get the city surveyed through its local tax staffers, prepare a report on how much space was being used by individual candidates or political parties and then subsequently send them bills for using city’s space in the KMC jurisdiction.

He said that during the hearing of a case regarding non-payment of salaries to KMC staffers, the Sindh High Court had suggested that the civic agency could increase its earnings generally by taking fees from the people who were using its spaces, etc.

He said that besides sending bills to the candidates and parties, copies of the bills should also be sent to the election commission of Pakistan and the SHC and the results of the election of defaulting candidates should be withheld until they cleared the dues to the KMC.

A spokesperson for the KMC told Dawn that the civic body was not even considering such a proposal.

He, however, agreed that the civic agency did impose fees and recovered it from the advertisers using its space and installations, but no such proposal for levying a fee on the candidates or political parties contesting elections was even under consideration by the KMC.

The sources said that keeping in view the highly charged and polarised political / ethnic situation in the city, it would be impossible for the civic agency staffers to collect the fees from, or remove the flags, banners, advertisements of the candidates, political parties, who do not pay the fees.

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