PESHAWAR: In a bid to run the affairs of industries and economic zones through the corporate sector, the provincial government finally closed down the Khyber-Pakhunkhwa Development Authority (KPDA), formerly known as the Sarhad Development Authority (SDA). The body was established in 1973.
The K-P government issued Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Taking Over the Industrial Estate or Economic Zones Ordinance, 2016 on July 22. This repealed the SDA Act, 1972, under which the body was established and run for nearly four decades.
The government has transferred all the assets, employees, liabilities, court proceedings and records of KPDA to the public limited company, K-P Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC).
As per Section-3 of the ordinance, all the 10 industrial estates or economic zones of KPDA have been transferred to KPEZDMC. Section-3 also states the KPDA shall cease to exist after the ordinance comes into force, while Section-8 of the ordinance states that SDA Act, 1972 stands repealed. Since its inception, KPDA was performing the job, but the incumbent government wanted to run affairs with the help of the corporate sector. For this purpose, the government established the KPEZDMC and then transferred all the assets and records of the KPDA to it through a simple letter issued by the industries and commerce secretary.
However, KPDA employees challenged the move in Peshawar High Court and took a stay order in the said case. The employees were worried about their status in the new setup. The court, later in its decision, stopped the government from transferring the KPDA’s assets and directed it to do the job legally.
The court’s decision on March 10 stated that under Article-173(5) of the Constitution, the transfer of land by the federal or provincial governments shall be regulated by law. Therefore, KPDA’s assets cannot be transferred to KPEZDMC through a letter of the secretary.
The verdict stated, “Public assets cannot be transferred or disposed of through a simple letter of a secretary.” The advocate general had assured the court that everything done in the matter would be according to law and rules, after which the government promulgated the ordinance.
An official of the law department told The Express Tribune the government issued an ordinance because it wanted the job to be done quickly. “Later, the ordinance will be tabled in the assembly and it will be turned into an act,” he added.
Regarding the future of employees of the KPDA, the court ordered the government to give them statutory protection.
Section-5 of the ordinance states all the employees of KPDA shall stand transferred to the company. Further, it says the company shall give options to the employees either to continue to serve the company (KPEZDMC) on their existing terms and conditions as specified in the KPDA Rules, 2015, or to continue to serve KPEZDMC on the terms and conditions given by it, including a golden handshake.
KPDA was running 10 industrial estates, including Hattar Industrial Estate Phase VII, Rashakai/M-1 Industrial Estate, Jalozai Industrial Estate, Ghazi Industrial Estate, DI Khan Industrial Estate, Bannu Industrial Estate,, Gadoon Industrial Estate, Hayatabad Industrial Estate and Nowshera Industrial Estate which stand transferred to KPEZDMC.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2016.
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