K-P mulls smart-cards for cars

Provincial assembly approves further grants worth Rs104 billion


Sohail Khattak October 24, 2018
PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: The provincial legislature was told on Tuesday that the government was looking to introduce smart cards for vehicles apart from improving the registration process to complete it within a day. This announcement came as the house approved a further six demands for grants worth Rs104 billion out of the 59 demands included in the money bill for the fiscal year 2018-19.

Opposition members withdrew their cut motions after they were convinced by the ministers of the six departments concerned.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) excise and taxation, home and tribal affairs and the prison departments were subject to criticism by the opposition.

Pay your taxes: Vehicle checking campaign starts today

Karak lawmaker affiliated with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Malik Zafar Azam complained about excise and taxation officials who allegedly force the visitors to approach the department through unofficial ‘agents’.

“I was asked to come through the agents and you know what could be the intentions behind that request,” Azam said, asking who give such officers jobs in the anti-narcotics department and why.

He also complained about how the department had failed to curb the spread of crystal methamphetamines, commonly known as ice.

“Excise department is among those two departments which are known for corruption,” said Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) lawmaker Inayatullah Khan.

He inquired if the department has any plans to enhance revenue collection and suggested conducting periodic performance audits of departments with predefined key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate their performance.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary leader Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha noted that the excise department's incompetency can be judged by the interest people show in having their vehicles registered in Islamabad.

"People trust Islamabad and not them (K-P excise department). Licence plates [issuance] is delayed by six to eight months," he lamented.

Awami National Party’s (ANP) parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak said that the department issues licence plates on which the word “KPK” has been used.

“It should either be K-P or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on the licence plates,” he said as he urged lawmakers to transfer the registration of their vehicles to K-P to reverse the trend of registering cars in Islamabad.

“I have a car with Lahore registration. I hereby declare that I will transfer its registration to K-P within a month,” he said adding that the lawmakers should start it with their own cars.

Babak asked Law Minister Sultan Khan to inform the house about how many departments are being looked after by the chief minister.

Before Sultan could answer, ANP’s Khushdil Khan shouted out that the CM has 22 departments.

“The registration process of vehicles is completed within a day,” Sultan said while responding to Nalotha’s complaints, adding that the province will be introducing smartcard for vehicles.

Moreover, he said that the government has prepared an anti-narcotics bill which aims to introduce special measures to control ice.

Responding to questions on the revenue generation strategies, Sultan said the K-P revenue authority had collected Rs10.5 billion last year while the authority had collected a further Rs2.5 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

Offering a comparison, he said that in the fiscal year 2013-14, the department had collected Rs6 billion.

Regarding the word KPK on licence plates, Sultan agreed with his ANP colleague.

“I agree with Babak sahib that Khyber and Pakhtunkhwa are two words, not three, and it should be clear to the departments. Its abbreviation is K-P, not KPK,” he said.

Sultan also corrected Khushdil by stating that K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan currently had 17 departments. However, the law minister said that these will be reduced after an expansion in the provincial cabinet.

The lawmakers also questioned the existence of the home and tribal affairs department and sought details on its performance.

Inayatullah asked its minister to tell the house about the department’s plans and preparation for merging areas from the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) and K-P, particularly the issue of extending police to the tribal areas and fate of existing security forces there.

“What is the role of the department’s research and analysis wing? Is it limited to data collection or does it offer suggestions for a path to peace and to prevent conflicts,” the JI lawmaker asked, adding that police force has been made autonomous and does not fall under the home department anymore.

ANP lawmaker Shagufta Malik criticised the home department for failing to provide adequate facilities to women who are detained and arrested in various cases, particularly access to state-provided legal counsel.

“Target killing was previously associated with Karachi but now it has escalated in K-P,” she lamented.

Continuing the topic, Babak pointed out the redundancy of the Fata secretariat after the merger of Fata. He also asked about compensation plans for those residents of Fata who had lost their properties due to the war on terror.

The assembly speaker adjourned the session before Sultan could respond.

After the break, the government negotiated with opposition lawmakers to limit their speeches and to reserve their cut motions for key departments so that the assembly business can be completed.

The opposition agreed and withdrew their cut motions.

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Sikhs annoyed by helmets, Kirpan restrictions

MMA’s minority lawmaker Ranjeet Singh brought forth the issues his community was facing in their day to day lives. In particular was the issue they had with the helmet requirement for motorbike riders.

Singh explained that they already have a natural helmet in the form of their turban but traffic police officials keep pulling them over and ask them to wear helmets — which is impossible given the requirement to wear the turban.

He also told the house that their community was religiously obligated to carry their dagger, the Kirpan. However, he said that the law barred them.

The law minister assured Singh that he will discuss the matter with him and look for a legal solution to the issue.

"We will do whatever is possible to resolve the issue and will also amend the existing laws if needed."

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2018.

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