PESHAWAR, June 18: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is likely to replicate the Indian Punjab land settlement model to end monopoly of revenue officials (patwaris) and eradicate corruption from revenue department.
Minister Mohammad Shuja Khan, who has taken over revenue department few days ago, told Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday that a plan was under discussion to introduce the Indian Punjab model where lands were allotted on a passbook.
The buyers and sellers of land would have to register the transfer of land by using their passbooks and revenue officers could not intervene, he said, while speaking on a cut motion.
“We have two options, either to replicate Indian Punjab system or copy Australian model,” he told legislators, who piled up complaints against patwaris.
The minister said that revenue department might introduce the Indian model as a pilot project from a rural area in Peshawar. If it was successful then it could be extended to other districts, he added.
He admitted that computerisation of the land record might not contain the role of patwari because it was experienced in Mardan district. Litigation cases increased in Mardan after computerisation of land record, he opined.
In Peshawar, the minister said, 70 per cent land record had been computerised and it would be extended to 17 more districts. He, however, could not provide solution for curtailing powers of patwaris.
MPA Dr Iqbal Din Fana, while speaking on his cut motion, said that government did nothing for improvement of revenue department during the past four years. He said that government had announced that land record would be computerised in the province but no progress had been made.
Mohammad Shuja was the fourth minister of the revenue department during the past four years, he added.
Planning and development department also came under fire in the house and opposition members expressed dissatisfaction over its performance. They said that despite availability of funds the government could not launch mega projects to generate revenue and create employment opportunities in the province.
Opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani stressed the need for launching projects that could create job opportunities. He said that government should allocate more funds for Chashma Right Bank Canal (Lift-I) to irrigate barren lands in southern districts. He also proposed merger of information technology department with the technical education department.
PPP lawmaker Nergis Sameen termed planning and development department a white elephant, saying it had failed to start major projects.
Speaking on another cut motion, MPA Javed Abbasi said that excise department should take drastic steps for improving recovery in the province. He said that after 18th Amendment the excise and taxation department would collect taxes therefore government should evolve proper mechanism not only for recovery but also to widen its tax net.
“The province will bankrupt if provincial government doesn’t widen the tax net,” he maintained, adding that the department concerned had no capacity for the collection of general sales tax.
The house approved four demands for grants for finance, planning and development, information technology and revenue departments.
Earlier, Speaker Karamatullah Khan Chagharmatti adjourned the session for four hours over lack of quorum in the morning.
Attendance in the house was very low and treasury as well as opposition benches were almost empty. Officers’ galleries were also half packed when the business was started at 10.30am. Opposition member from Lakki Marwat, Naseer Khan Midadkhel drew the chair’s notice towards the quorum.
In the 124-member house, only 24 legislators were present when irritated Speaker Chagharmatti ordered counting as he was initially hesitant to adjourn the business. The chair directed to ring bells for two minutes despite that the quorum was incomplete and session was adjourned till 2pm.
Opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani criticised government for not taking interest in the budget session. “This is a shameful act. This government does not realise importance of the budget session and wastes the tax payers’ money,” he told journalists in his chamber.
“Regrettably chief minister, ministers and officials are not interested in budget session. What the nation can expect from a government which can’t maintain quorum,” Mr Durrani said. He was of the view that it was government’s responsibility to maintain quorum.