KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet has decided to request the Supreme Court to allow the provincial government to make alternative arrangements before demolishing human settlements along the dykes of the canals of the Indus.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who presided over the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, directed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to provide tents and blankets to the people displaced so far and also directed the district administration to take care of the people living under the open sky.

The CM also took the cabinet on board about the decisions taken at Monday’s meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in Islamabad.

On the complaints of ministers about lack of cleanliness in Sindh’s cities and towns, Mr Shah directed the local government minister to ensure that the municipal organisations undertake cleanliness work.

The cabinet is told that around 40,000 families have been displaced in the ongoing operation

Several cabinet members also spoke against what they called high-handedness of the police, extrajudicial killings, etc.

The CM decided that since the inspector general of police was not present in the meeting, the grievances against police would be communicated to him in writing. He said the IGP was on medical leave.

40,000 families displaced in anti-encroachment drive

The decision to request the apex court for time was raised when Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Shah told the cabinet that around 40,000 families had been displaced in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive along the dykes of River Indus and its canals in Sukkur.

Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said that more than 10,000 families of scheduled caste living along the embankments of the canals of Badin district had been displaced and now they were living in the open.

The same issue was raised by CM’s senior Adviser Nisar Khuhro and other ministers.

The chief minister directed Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab to make a request to the Supreme Court to give reasonable time to the provincial government for making alternative arrangements for the people being displaced during the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.

He constituted a four-member committee to find government lands where these people could be settled.

The LG minister said that the chief minister had already approved 200 acres for Sukkur but more land was required in Larkana, Ghotki and other districts.

Urban valuation table

The Board of Revenue (BoR) told the cabinet that there was a variation between the urban valuation table of the FBR and that of BoR in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur.

The chief minister directed the BoR to conduct a comprehensive survey of all cities of the province to rationally determine the number of categories with clear demarcation of the area falling in each category in the cities (metropolitan, municipal corporations and municipal committees).

Mr Shah said that in the next budget a proposal for the removal of variation in the valuation table of Sindh and the FBR would be presented before the assembly.

There was a proposal of the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) to impose the Sindh sales tax on services on development schemes from 2016-17. Many cabinet members, however, opposed the proposal and said that it might be imposed from the next financial year.

The cabinet constituted a committee to be headed by the chief secretary to fix the rate and then impose it from the next financial year.

The chief secretary presented a report about exempting low-cost housing sector from the Sindh sales tax on services. The cabinet approved the exemption on construction of houses on plots not exceeding 125 square yards and residential flats not exceeding 900 square feet.

Recruitment in govt departments

The services and general administration department presented a proposal to conduct test of candidates applying for the jobs in grade BS-5 to 15 by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Sukkur.

The IBA would invite applications for the positions from grade BS-5 to BS-10 and from BS-10 to BS-14 and would conduct their screening test. The candidates would have to take at least 50 per cent marks to qualify for interview. In the interview, importance would be given to the IBA test marks, matriculation/intermediate and BA marks.

The chief minister directed all the provincial departments to submit a list of their vacant positions from grade BS-1 to 15.

The departments, which have already furnished their lists, may upgrade their vacant positions, he said, adding that there would be three different tests for matriculation, intermediate and graduates.

The cabinet had already decided that the positions from BS-1 to BS-4 would be filled locally and the departments had been directed to submit vacant positions so that local candidates could be given priority. These positions would be filled through district selection committees.

The chief minister said that he was keen to start the recruitment process. He said once given by a candidate the results of the test would be valid for three years.

Protest at CCI meeting over at-source deduction

The chief minister told the cabinet that he had raised the issue of at-source deduction of Rs16 billion of Sindh by the FBR at Monday’s CCI meeting, which was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said that the deduction remained so “ruthless” that once he had to lodge an FIR and after that Sindh had been protected from the FBR’s wrath. Now the FBR had unleashed the same policy against Balochistan, he added.

He said that the prime minister directed Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh to redress the grievances of Sindh and return what the FBR had deducted at source.

Mr Shah told the cabinet that the prime minister had assured him that he would be holding CCI meetings regularly.

The culture department presented rules for the Sindhi Language Authority under which method of appointment of chairperson, qualification, age, tenure and appointing authority had been determined. The chairperson of the authority must hold a PhD degree and have published at least 10 research papers in HEC-recognised journals with a minimum five-year administration experience.

The functions of the authority include considering ways and means for promotion and use of the Sindhi language as a provincial language and achieving better understanding, harmonious linguistic development, national cohesion and integration.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2019

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