PA brings electric buses under tax ambit

CM passes the buck for slow development pace to Centre


Hafeez Tunio May 08, 2021
Sindh Assembly Session. PHOTO: NNI

KARACHI:

The Sindh Assembly passed a law on Friday legalising the use of electric buses in the province.

One such bus has already been operational on Karachi’s roads.

Moving the motor vehicle taxation amendment bill, Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, who also happens to be the excise and taxation minister, said that after the passage of the law, electric buses could be registered for taxation in the province.

“Sindh is the first province which has launched this [electric buses] project and is going to register the buses,” said Chawla. The provincial transport department had earlier, on March 30, 2020, inaugurated a project for electric buses under the public-private partnership model.

The first electric bus hit the roads the next day and a fleet of 100 such buses was announced in collaboration with the Sapphire Group.

The minimum fare for the buses has been fixed at Rs10 and the buses are to have 10 designated stops running between Sohrab Goth and Merewether Clock Tower and back. The buses, each with 37 seats, are to run this route six times a day.

On funds and delays

Meanwhile, as the sessions devoted to budget expenditures for the fiscal year 2021 drew to a close Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah held the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government responsible for the slow pace of development projects in the province.

“Sindh is not given a due share from the divisible pool that is why many schemes are in doldrums and development work is delayed in the province,” he said, winding up the debate on the pre-budget session. “In the last ten months, Sindh government was supposed to get Rs624 billion, but only Rs544 billion has so far been released, which is a shortfall of Rs90 billion in the respective time,” he remarked.

Regretting the meager amount allocated for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for Sindh, he said, “Only Rs8.3 billion has been allocated for Sindh, which generates a major chunk of tax revenue for the entire country “Does Sindh not fall in Pakistan? If so, then why such a minimal amount is kept for its development schemes,” he asked.

He was of the view that despite tall claims, the Centre has not earmarked funds for Karachi except for the construction of its drains. The Sindh government is working with the federal government for the construction of stormwater drains but other schemes are funded by the provincial government alone, he said. Shah maintained that he had written four to five letters to the prime minister for the completion of schemes but it had all been to no avail. Responding to the opposition members speeches about the incompetency of Sindh Public Services Commission, CM remarked “for the first time in history of Sindh, a Hindu girl has qualified the competitive exams for DSP in police along with many from the vibrant youth of Sindh who appeared and qualified the exam in various disciplines.”

With regards to schemes in the provincial development programme, Shah said that his government hopes to finish 572 schemes in by the end of the current fiscal year.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Shaikh had censured the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government over its failures to deliver in the province despite being in governance for over a decade.

According to the opposition leader, there are irregularities worth Rs267 billion in the accounts of the Sindh government and the most suspicious account is that of the irrigation department, which has bungled huge amounts in the name of development.

He further contended that the treasury benches do not listen to the members on the other side of the aisle. The session was later adjourned indefinitely

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