PESHAWAR: The administration of Kurram region has restarted the collection of rahdari (import tax) on all goods, including food items, ignoring the federal government’s order and subsequent ban on it.
Officials of the tribal region, which was merged with KP lately, have been issuing rahdari receipt to vehicle owners at two checkposts.
The local businessmen told Dawn that officials had begun collecting Rs250 on every heavy vehicle loaded with goods in Sadda, tehsil headquarters of lower Kurram.
The local administration charges the same vehicle Rs200 at Mali Kali checkposts, some six kilometers east of Parachinar town.
Resumes collection of rahdari on all goods in region
The administration has imposed Rs50 on light vehicles each, including cars transporting goods from Sadda to Parachinar.
In addition, Rs1,500 is collected from every loaded vehicle at Chappri checkpost, the entry and exit point of Kurram tribal region adjacent to Hangu area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but vehicle owners don’t get receipt.
Following the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lately, the federal government had stopped collecting rahdari on all items, including food exported from the country’s settled areas to the seven tribal regions.
A notification issued on June 8, 2018, read that the chief secretary directed the deputy commissioners concerned to ensure end to the collection of all types of rahdari, import, export tax and levies by the political administration forthwith.
It added, “a compliance report shall be sent to Fata’s additional chief secretary within 48 hours of the receipt of the instructions.”
The notification said the local administration would ensure that no person or agency collected any type of tax, levy or fee anywhere in its respective jurisdiction other than what a national law allowed.
The chief secretary directed the authorities concerned to abolish all checkposts, where rahdari or any other duty was collected.
However, that infrastructure continues to exist in Kurram region despite the issuance of that order.
The reports said the administration had deputed eight to 15 Moharrars at different check posts, including Mali Kali’s.
Sources in the Civil Secretariat Fata, Peshawar, confided to Dawn that the authorities in other tribal regions had also started the collection of rahdari and levies from the local traders without giving receipts.
They said only the administration of Kurram region was issuing proper receipt to owners after collecting the amount.
Another source in the secretariat said the administrations of the newly merged regions were running short of cash due to elimination of funds.
The erstwhile political authorities shifted the amount collected through rahdari and other levies to the agency welfare fund, which was not open to the official audit.
The amount was deposited in the official account of political agents.
Businessmen in Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram, said they had brought the issue to the notice of the military authorities, but to no avail.
They said the officials claimed that they didn’t have resources to bear the administrative expenditure and those of municipal services since the government stopped the collection of agency welfare fund across Fata.
When contacted, spokesperson for the Fata Secretariat Abdul Salam Wazir said the office of the additional chief secretary didn’t receive any compliant about the collection of rahdari or any other duty in Kurram or any other tribal area.
He said rahdari collection continued to be banned in tribal region and therefore, strict action would be taken if any official was found to be violating the ban.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2018