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KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to take up the issue of over Rs7 billion ‘unconstitutional’ deduction by the Federal Board of Revenue from the Provincial Consolidated Fund in the coming meeting of the Council of Common Interests which will be presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The CCI meeting scheduled for Sept 12 will be the first of the PTI-led government at the Centre.

In addition to the direct deduction from the Provincial Consolidated Fund (PCF), the Sindh government would also raise its pending issues with the CCI for which Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the Sindh chief secretary to write a letter to the CCI secretariat for including all pending issues of the province on the agenda for the CCI meeting as most of the issues are important and need urgent attention in the supreme interest of the people of Sindh.

This decision was taken here on Thursday by the chief minister while presiding over a meeting at Chief Minister House.

Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, Chief Secretary retired Major Azam Suleman, principal secretary Sohail Rajput, provincial secretaries of energy and irrigation and other officers concerned attended the meeting.

Pointing out that although he had not so far received the agenda for CCI meeting, the chief minister said that various issues which were pending with the CCI included amendment to the petroleum exploration and production policy 2012, unconstitutional and unauthorised deduction by the FBR from the PCF, allocation of 1,200 cusecs additional water for Karachi city (K-IV) project, implementation of Article 154 of the Constitution, matters pertaining to higher education and other similar bodies after 18th Amendment to further enhance the representation of provinces in the federal Higher Education Commission and import of liquefied natural gas.

The chief minister said Karachi was facing acute water shortage.

“The current domestic consumption which currently stands at 12.75 gallons per capita per day is anticipated to drop further in the next coming years mainly attributable to city’s high population growth,” he said and added that

keeping in view the present demand and future strategy, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board had worked out additional demand of 1,200 cusecs to 2,400 cusecs.

He further said that the irrigation department approached the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) twice to allocate 1,200 cusecs additional drinking water for Karachi in addition to the provisions of the 1991 water accord.

Secretary Irrigation Jamal Shah told the chief minister that Irsa had regretted the request and replied that any additional requirement of water supply to Karachi had to be met by Sindh out of its existing allocated share as no water outside the accord was available for further distribution.

At this the chief minister said that prior to the 1991 water accord, 1,200 cusecs of water was sanctioned for Karachi on August 10, 1988 by the president. “This 1,200 cusecs water has been included in allocation of Sindh province mentioned at Para-2 of Water Accord 1991, but additional requirement of 1,200 cusecs water for the city has not been included in the share of the province,” he said.

The matter of deduction by the FBR from the PCF also extensively came under discussion in the meeting where it was pointed out that the FBR had deducted Rs633.119 million in 2012-13, Rs6,127.115m in 2015-16 and Rs294.5m in 2016-17 which comes to a total Rs7,054.734m.

“It is unauthorised and unconstitutional deduction which belongs to the people of Sindh and it will have to be refunded,” he said and added that apart from taking it up in the CCI meeting, the matter had to be raised with the ministry of finance.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018