The Sindh government has decided to fight for its right to collect Zakat at the upcoming meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
After the promulgation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, several departments, including the federal Zakat ministry, were devolved to the provincial governments. In the last CCI meeting held at the Sindh Secretariat on July 27, it was decided to allow the Centre to collect Zakat for two more years and distribute it on population basis. Sindh was the only province which demanded provincial governments be given the right to collect Zakat and distribute it.
The Sindh government had contended that since the Zakat department had been devolved to the provinces, the right to collect Zakat rests with the provincial governments.
Now the Sindh government has prepared its case on the agenda to be discussed at the next CCI meeting on August 8 to be chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
A strategy to fight for its right to collect Zakat was devised at a meeting held at the Chief Minister’s House on August 2. Sindh Chief Secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas and secretaries of different provincial departments attended the meeting.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah would again take up the issue to either give the right to collect Zakat to Sindh, or pull back the two-year deadline by one year until 2014, sources privy to the development said.
Other provinces get more (Zakat share) than their actual collection and Punjab being the most populated province gets the major chunk from the divisible poll on population criteria, complained Sindh Zakat Minister Sajjid Jokhio at the meeting.
The federal government citing State Bank figures had said that it pays Sindh Rs620 million while its actual share is Rs550 million, he added. “We cannot believe it because the share of Sindh is more than Rs1 billion in Zakat collection,” he said.
Jokhio also said that the government would raise the issue to get around Rs2 billion in Zakat arrears from the federal government.
National mineral policy
The Sindh government has also decided to take a stand on being given the right to devise the “National Mineral Policy” on its own, sources told The Express Tribune.
Under the 18th amendment, the provinces have the right to issue licences to the companies willing to exploit natural resources and fix the rates of natural resources. The mining regularly body also falls in the provincial government’s domain.
In its case to be presented at the CCI meeting, the Sindh government has stated that the Centre should give guarantees to international investors and donors, and morally support the provincial government in motivating the investors. The provincial government should have the ownership rights on its natural resources.
Kaleem Lashari, the secretary of Sindh inter-provincial and coordination department, told The Express Tribune that the development of Thar coal will also be taken up at the CCI meeting.
“The federal government would be asked to release funds, especially for setting up grid stations and transmission lines in Thar to supply electricity to Thar coal field,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.