KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Thursday reaffirmed that it would not accept any move forcing people of Karachi to pay municipal taxes through electricity bills. The party, which is a coalition partner at the Centre, has now asked the federal government to explain its position and make it clear that Islamabad would not accept any such decision.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s Bahadurabad headquarters, former Karachi mayor and senior MQM-P leader Wasim Akhtar questioned performance of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in Sindh and called it the “worst ever administration” for whole province in general and its urban centres in particular.

Declaring that the people of Karachi would not pay any municipal tax planned to be collected via electricity bills because of the city’s deteriorating sanitation and sewerage conditions, Mr Akhtar along with senior party leader Muhammad Hussain warned the K-Electric not to enter into any agreement with an “unelected administration” of Karachi.

“This time we also want the federal government to clear its position,” he said.

Renews pledge to resist any such decision tooth and nail

“Under the defined rules and mechanism of its operation, the power companies cannot make any agreement with any government or authority without the permission of the federal government. The federal government should make it clear that it would not allow any such company under its authority to burden Karachiites.”

On Sept 8, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had held a meeting with Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab and officials of the KE in which a plan to collect two taxes on behalf of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) from citizens of Karachi through their monthly K-Electric bills was unveiled.

The CM had said Rs100 and Rs200 would be charged under the head of fire tax and conservancy tax, respectively, through KE bills from the power utility’s 2.56 million consumers.

The move drew sharp criticism from opposition parties in Sindh as they not only rejected the collection of any such tax by KE, but also questioned performance of the PPP’s provincial government that has been ruling over the province for the past 13 years.

The MQM leaders said that the PPP government after failing to prove its effectiveness and show performance during past 13 years had now found new ways of excuses and was trying to shift the burden of its failure on the federal government.

“The Sindh government should be aware of the fact that Karachi is not alone or orphan,” said Mr Hussain. “It generates Rs250 billion for the provincial government alone. What else it wants from Karachi and its people?

“The fact is that the PPP which has always been anti-Karachi and anti-people of urban centres of Sindh is now trying to stage a new game plan and ultimately would shift the blame of its failure on non-availability of funds and non-cooperation of the people.”

Questioning the rationale behind targeting only the citizens of Karachi, the former Sindh minister asked the provincial government why it was not planning to levy and collect similar municipal taxes from all across the province, especially interior of the province.

He said the provincial government was doing no development works in Karachi and all it wanted was to increase the burden of taxes on the already overburdened people of the metropolis.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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