Commercialisation: Beaconhouse not paying municipal fees

LDA losing millions by bending rules for largest private school system.


Anwer Sumra April 22, 2011

LAHORE:


The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has not charged the Beaconhouse School System commercialisation fees for at least 10 branches built in residential areas in the city, a ‘favour’ worth millions of rupees, The Express Tribune has learnt.


The Beaconhouse School System claims to be “possibly the largest private school system of its kind in the world”, currently educating close to 200,000 students. It is owned by the influential Kasuri family, which includes former foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri. It has around 30 campuses in Lahore, most built in residential areas.

According to the Land Use Rules of 2009, a commercial concern that wishes to use a residential, industrial, peri-urban or intercity service area for commerce must pay a conversion fee equivalent to 20 per cent of the value of the commercial land or 20 per cent of the average sale price during the preceding 12 months of commercial land in the vicinity. It must then pay an annual commercialisation fee. All schools, beauty parlours, boutiques and clubs established in residential areas are liable to pay annual commercialisation fees.

But the Beaconhouse School System opened 10 branches in residential areas, mostly in Gulberg, without paying conversion fees or annual commercial fees. One school each was opened in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 and five in 2007.

“It’s cost the LDA millions of rupees in revenue,” said an LDA official on condition of anonymity. “Some senior officials of the LDA are being offered high rebates in their children’s education,” he added.

At the campuses in residential areas, school buildings were constructed and alterations and improvements were made. Planning permission was not gained from the authority for these constructions and renovations.

Under the rules, the conversion of land use without permission or payment of fees is illegal and the LDA can seal the property or fine the owner.

An official concerned asking not to be named said an exercise was in process to enforce the commercialisation policy in letter and spirit. He admitted that Beaconhouse appeared to have received favours, “either due to the ulterior motives of some officials or pressure from influential persons. Normally challans are issued for such violations because officials are keen to show that they are performing.”

Tabriz Bokhari, head of media and marketing at Beaconhouse, said: “Not to my knowledge. I am sure we paid commercialisation fees.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2011.

COMMENTS (4)

Andrea | 10 years ago | Reply @MAS: Well the key is to highlight the issue so that the responsible people are made to pay outstanding taxes. The Sharifs have done a good job of modernizing Lahore but they also need to improve the application of municipal laws.
MAS | 10 years ago | Reply What about more powerful Punjab Group of Colleges, its University of Central Punjab and similar institutions of Mian Amer- a big tycoon in Lahore, which are also working in residential areas and reportedly their buildings are not approved by the LDA or RDA etc, the buildings don’t have any safety measures nor have any parking space. They use nearby lawns for parking and don’t even pay other taxes because the tycoon is also a powerful media mogul and Sharif’s can’t even touch such robber barons.
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