Notwithstanding the fact that the federal Zakat ministry has been devolved to the provincial governments after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the provinces still have no right to collect and distribute Zakat on their own.
Instead of giving the provinces full autonomy, the federal government on Friday decided to retain the Zakat collection right for another two years.
The decision was made at a meeting held at the Sindh Secretariat where chief secretaries of all the four provinces were present and the meeting was presided over by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah.
Sources told The Express Tribune that three provinces – Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) – insisted that the federal government collect Zakat and distribute it among the provinces on a population basis.
Sindh was the only province which demanded provincial governments be given the right to collect Zakat and distribute it.
After lengthy negotiations, the federal government representative decided to collect Zakat for another two years — after which the right will be transferred to the provincial governments.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sindh Minister for Zakat and Ushr Sajjid Jokhio said that after the 18th Amendment it was the constitutional right of provincial governments to collect and distribute Zakat.
A major chunk of Zakat is being collected from Sindh and distributed to other provinces on the so-called basis of population, which is unjust, he added.
“Balochistan and K-P contribute a very small amount of Zakat in the divisible pool and get a bigger share on the basis of their population. The same situation applies to Punjab, which gets more than it collects because it is the largest province,” he complained.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, while talking to media, said that all the provinces have unanimously decided to hand over the Zakat collection powers to federal government till 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.