• Cantt boards to transfer revenue to provincial govt after charging 2pc service fee
• Ministerial body formed to review corporate agriculture farming proposal

KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Thursday allowed cantonment boards to collect property tax within their respective limits and transfer the collected revenue to the provincial government after deducting their two per cent service charges.

The cabinet took the decision in view of the Supreme Court’s April 23 order that had directed the provincial government to enact a law within three months to bring to end a controversy whether the provincial government or the cantonment boards in Karachi will assess and collect the urban property tax from residents of the cantonment areas.

After 18th Amendment, the federal government and cantonment boards do not have any competence, power and jurisdiction to levy, charge, impose and recover taxes on any immovable property including tax on the annual rental value of immoveable property.

Some cantonment residents had challenged the property tax before the Sindh High Court, stating that such taxes could not be imposed and collected by the cantonment boards after devolution of powers to the province after 18th Amendment. The SHC ruled in their favour and later the federal government and cantonment boards filed appeals in the apex court against the said judgement.

On Thursday, a meeting of the provincial cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, was informed that the apex court had ruled that the provincial government would be responsible for imposing and collecting taxes on immovable property in the cantonment areas.

Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani told the cabinet that the provincial government had devolved the collection of property tax from the excise & taxation (E&T) department to the local government department in July 2022.

He added that the levy and collection processes were still under the purview of the E&T department for the next three years.

The cabinet approved the plan to levy and collect property tax from the cantonment areas as per the Supreme Court decision.

New Hub Canal project okayed

Taking a policy decision in the interest of Karachi, the cabinet approved the Rs12 billion project to construct a new Hub Canal and rehabilitate the existing one through provincial government funding.

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation submitted a proposal and the cabinet approved it.

Later, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon told a media briefing that the project would commence within a year and it was expected to address and resolve the water problem of Karachi soon.

Plan to revive Pakistan Steel Mills

The cabinet also took up the matter of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

Minister Memon said that the Sindh and federal governments had agreed on resuming operations of the PSM and the cabinet discussed the plans to create an export processing zone on the land of the steel mill.

He said that it would be designated as a special economic zone and its earnings would be used to financially support the PSM.

Regarding corporate agriculture farming, the information minister told reporters that the cabinet formed a high-level committee to look into the matters concerning the use of the government land for this project.

Officials said that the chief minister informed the cabinet that M/s Green Corporate Ltd had requested a joint venture for agriculture farming over an area of 52,713 acres of land in six districts.

The cabinet deliberated on the proposal and formed a committee with ministers of agriculture, irrigation, law & senior member of board of revenue to study the proposal and put up its recommendations for taking final decisions.

The minister said that the cabinet also discussed a project for setting up a modern hospital, school, autism centre and playground for special children on 100 acres along Malir Expressway.

The chief minister told the cabinet that hundreds of acres had been reclaimed for the construction of the expressway and the Board of Revenue and police must ensure proper protection of the land.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2024

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