As the province goes into lockdown, how do the city's marginalised fare? PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Stamp duty relief yet to reach people in Rawalpindi

Punjab announced cut but registrar office shut due to lockdown

Qaiser Shirazi April 16, 2020
RAWALPINDI: The provincial government had decided to relax stamp duty on property transfers in the district. However, the benefits of this move have yet to reach residents of Rawalpindi because the registrar office has been closed for two weeks due to a lockdown to control the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Reduction in stamp duty did not benefit the people as the notification was not issued [in time],” Stamp Selling Union District Kutcheri President Waheed Awan told The Express Tribune.

The provincial government had announced to reduce the stamp duty on the sale and purchase of properties from a whopping six per cent to just two per cent to spur property trading in the district.

But before it could notify the change, the offices of the property registrar in Rawalpindi closed due to the lockdown.

Furthermore, the closure of the registrar offices, located inside the district courts, has caused all sorts of property dealing and trading in the district to grind to a halt.

“Not a single case of property transfer has been recorded during the past 16 days,” an official working at the office of the Rawalpindi Urban Sub-Registrar said.

Requesting anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak to the media, the official said that property dealers as well as those who sell stamp papers, deeds, titles and other related legal documents used in the property deals, have been bearing the brunt of the lockdown.

“The stamp paper and document vendors have been pushed deep into financial crisis due to closure of the registrar office,” he said.

As a comparison, the official said that before the lockdown, the office recorded an average of 150 real estate deals in the city per day.

Stamp paper vendors’ representative Awan confirmed this and said that the closure of the registrar office had all but destroyed their business as no deals have taken place over the past two weeks, noting that there was only so much of the dealing they could do online or through the phone and that they had to go to the registrar office to complete any deal.

The daily-wage stamp sellers have been the hardest hit by the closure, he added.

Awan demanded that the deputy commissioner (DC) reopen the registrar office so that their businesses can resume. The property business will also add millions of rupees to the revenue of the city daily, he explained.

Meanwhile, real estate dealers Shareef Qureshi and Ammar Shah, who claimed to have finalised as many as seven deals in the first half of the month, lamented that even though they had made the deals, the process of transferring the property to complete the deal — and thus the payment of their commission — had stalled due to closure of the registrar office.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2020.


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