The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday announced it would not support the extension of the Custom Act, 1969 to Malakand Division and Kohistan. This was stated by Special Assistant to CM on Information Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani who was addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Monday as anti-tax shutter-down strikes started in Malakand Division.
Ghani was also accompanied by the Minister for Finance Muzaffar Said and parliamentary secretary Dr Haider Ali. They strongly opposed the extension of the Customs Act, 1969 to Malakand.
Ghani said the K-P government believed such an action would violate an existing agreement the federal government made with the people of Malakand.
He said it would also have a negative impact on the region’s economy, already devastated by natural disasters and militancy. “Therefore, the K-P government will oppose the extension of this act to the region.”
Non-custom paid cars
He said if non-custom paid and non-registered vehicles were being used for crime and militancy, there should be some regulations to tackle the issue. Ghani added the chief minister signed a summary and asked the federal government to grant the people of Malakand amnesty on custom duty on the import of cars.
The assistant added the same legislation extended to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, but years had passed and it could not be implemented.
He said the K-P government has nothing to do with tax laws which are a federal subject. Ghani said the decision was taken by an apex committee so it will become the responsibility of the province to enforce it. However, the CM has signed a summary and sent to the federal government, suggesting amnesty on custom duties on the import of cars if the law is to be imposed.
“Economic conditions are weak and they cannot afford any such taxes,” said Ghani. He and cabinet members present with him collectively criticised opposition parties for politicising the matter.
Ghani said Malakand Division was a sensitive area gradually recovering after years of efforts. He added seven districts of the division were also devastated by natural calamities, leaving the economy in tatters.
“There is no need for political point scoring,” said the adviser. He said opposition parties have to realise the situation and not destroy the fragile peace of the area.
Presenting the K-P government’s stance on the Panama Leak, Ghani said money laundering must be opposed. “The leaks proved Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has concealed assets,” he added. The assistant said the prime minister no longer has the moral standing to lead the country. He pointed out the Election Commission of Pakistan “should have taken the notice as Nawaz made a false declaration of assets”.
Talking about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said a letter has been sent by the K-P chief minister about industrial zones, roads, optical fibre and railway lines. He said there was no clarity in the response sent by federal minister Ahsan Iqbal.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.