'Will not allow it': Asad Umar rejects Sindh's proposal to collect KMC taxes through power bills

Published September 11, 2021
Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar (left) addresses a press conference in Karachi on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar (left) addresses a press conference in Karachi on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Saturday opposed the Sindh government's proposal to collect taxes on behalf of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) through electricity bills, saying the federal government would not allow it.

“I have spoken to Energy Minister Hammad Azhar regarding this matter and we will not permit the collection of taxes through power bills,” said the minister, while speaking to the media in Karachi.

On Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had unveiled the provincial government's plan to collect two taxes on behalf of the KMC — fire tax and conservancy tax — from the citizens of Karachi through the monthly K-Electric bill.

Shah had said that Rs100 and Rs200 would be charged respectively from two categories of consumers [to be carved by the provincial administration] in the KE bill.

The chief minister had said that he was working to strengthen Karachi's local bodies financially so that they could serve citizens from their own resources.

During today's conference, Umar said there were discrepancies in the last census held in Karachi in 2017, and recalled that the Council of Common Interests had also acknowledged these concerns.

He said the government would now use "digital technology" for the census. "We had constituted a team of experts and they have completed their consultations on the matter," he said.

The minister said that the Ministry of Information and Technology, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, National Database and Registration Authority, National Telecom Corporation and Suparco will be taken on board during the process.

"We don't want any discrepancies. We will keep the census transparent," he said.

He also pointed out that water supply was another major issue for Karachiites, adding that work on the K-IV project was expected to start in Feb 2022.

'Tax money to be spent in a transparent manner'

Responding to the federal government's refusal of the Sindh government's proposal in his press talk later in the day, Administrator Karachi Murtaza Wahab insisted he would ensure the revenue generated through the proposed taxes in power bills will be spent on the city's development in a transparent manner.

Wahab said that KMC was not "begging", adding the collection of municipal utility tax will be released on the corporation's website.

He asked critics of the KMC to let the institution "stand on its own feet", adding that Karachi's infrastructure was ruined due to political interference.

The administrator said nobody would remain in power forever. "We have to strengthen this institution. I will do whatever I can for Karachi, no matter how many obstacles we face," he said.

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