KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to highlight its point of view on all important issues at the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting scheduled for Dec 11.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, being a member of the CCI, geared up the interprovincial coordination department on Thursday to make necessary preparations for the meeting by arranging summaries of the issues to be taken up. They will include the 1991 Water Accord, energy policy and return of the withholding tax deducted by the FBR directly from the provincial excise department’s account.
According to Article 154 of the Constitution, the CCI should meet at least once in 90 days but it was not convened since November 2018, as such problems confronted by the Sindh government piled up. The chief minister also asked his cabinet members and the secretary concerned to submit their detailed cases in his secretariat and he would hold another meeting to firm up his recommendations for the CCI meeting.
After receiving the CCI meeting agenda, the chief minister presided over a preparatory meeting here on Thursday and reviewing the items on the list said the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had issued an NOC for the installation of a 25MW hydropower project located on Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal in October 2019.
The provincial government is of the view that Irsa is not a competent forum to issue such an NOC, therefore the matter should be taken up in the CCI.
To question issuance of an NOC by Irsa for the installation of 25MW hydropower project on Chashma-Jhelum link canal
He said the CJ link canal was not a perennial canal and not even a flood canal because it had no assured supplies through the year. When it has no allocation of water in the 1991 accord, how can a hydropower project be installed there, he observed and directed the irrigation department to prepare a case and present it to him within a week.
By virtue of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Sindh Assembly has passed The Sindh Workers Welfare Fund Act, 2014 and The Sindh Employees Old-Age Benefits Act, 2014, therefore both Workers Welfare Ordinance of 1976 and the Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976 have been repealed to the extent of Sindh. He said the federal government should hand over the administrative control of the WWF and EOBI, including assets, to Sindh. He directed the labour department to prepare the case accordingly.
An issue between the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority and the provincial food authorities had emerged over their role as quality controlling and regulatory authority. The Sindh government feels that after the 18th Amendment, food articles being within the provincial domain, were subject to be regulated, inspected, registered, licensed and enforced by the provincial food authorities in their respective province, the chief minister said and directed the food authority to prepare a case and submit it to him for the meeting.
The ministry of health had on June 30, 2011 devolved all its vertical programmes to the province.
The CCI in its meeting on April 28, 2011 had decided that the federal government would provide funding only for the vertical programmes till the next NFC award. The chief minister said that around Rs13 billion, as liability or claim of the Sindh government, needed to be expeditiously disbursed by the federal government and directed the health department to prepare a case for him.
The excise and taxation department told the chief minister that the FBR on account of withholding tax had deducted over Rs8bn at source from the provincial government’s account.
The chief minister directed the department to prepare a case in detail and mention the meetings they had been holding with the FBR so that the amount could be reclaimed at the CCI forum.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019