Unfair distribution of resources makes rich Sindh suffer: SDF
By Aziz Malik
HYDERABAD, July 31: Sindh is the richest province of the country, but the injudicious and inequitable distribution of financial resources forces its people to living in pervading poverty and misery, the Sindh Democratic Forum has said.
Speaking at a news conference at the press club here on Friday, forum’s convener Abrar Kazi, and members Nazeer Memon and Aslam Baloch alleged that the resources of Sindh and Balochistan were being transferred to the two northern provinces since the inception of Pakistan.
But during the last many years, there had been a marked increase in the transfer of resources from the two rich provinces, they said.
Abrar Kazi alleged that the civil bureaucracy sitting in Islamabad had been depriving Sindh of its resources. He said the federal government’s money came from income tax, general sales tax, central excise duty and customs duty which formed the divisible pool. As per the NFC formula those resources were distributed on population basis alone.
He pointed out that according to the constitution of Pakistan, the GST collected on services such as telephone and electricity was purely a provincial subject. The bureaucrats sitting in the Q-block of Pakistan secretariat in Islamabad had been collecting this tax forcibly, illegally and unconstitutionally as a federal tax, he said.
Sindh collected 46 per cent of GST on services which amounted to Rs40 billion a year, Abrar Kazi said and added, that had been happening since year 2000. The federal government had collected Rs360 billion from Sindh, he said.
He said that with Rs360 billion, the entire irrigation network of three barrages of Sindh could have been remodelled, modernised and upgraded. Same went for the octroi duty, the convenor said.
Giving the background, he said the Nawaz Sharif government through an ordinance in 1997 had abolished octroi duty throughout Pakistan and raised the GST from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent. An understanding was given that 2.5 per cent GST would be distributed among the provinces on pro-rata basis, he said.
Sindh remained the main sufferer as 60 per cent of total octroi tax was collected from Sindh, Abrar Kazi said. He said according to the population based formula, Sindh was losing Rs5 billion a year through this rip-off.
Abrar Kazi pointed out that the defence budget of Pakistan was Rs335 billion a year while another Rs40 billion were paid as pension to the defence personnel.
He said Sindh and Balochistan had hardly any representation in the defence forces, especially in Air Force and Navy, and alleged that even in the army, a Sindhi or a Balochi could not go beyond the rank of brigadier.
He claimed that according to history, the people of Sindh and Balochistan were sea faring people and they had been trading with Muscat and Oman as far back as 2000 BC.
Why Sindhi and Baloch people were not being enrolled in Navy, he questioned.
He also referred to the anomalies in the matter of highways in which Sindh was being neglected.
He demanded that the constitution must be implemented in letter and spirit as far as the levy of GST on services and octroi duty were concerned and Rs5 billion GST a year be paid to Sindh through the new NFC award and Rs360 billion of the last nine years should also be reimbursed to Sindh.
He demanded that in the new NFC award, it should be recommended that the defence budget should be collected from the provinces according to the defence personnel strength of each province. Inductions in the armed forces, especially in the Navy, should be made commensurate with the population of each province, he added.
He said from now on appointments in the finance ministry, right from federal secretary to the peon, should be placed on the provincial quota to safeguard the interests of the smaller provinces.
He demanded that the Super Highway must be returned to the Sindh government as well as its oil, gas and coal resources. All income generated through those resources should be handed over to the province, he added.
He appealed to the people of Sindh, political parties, parliamentarians, students and other stakeholders to raise their voice for the return of financial resources of Sindh to its people to alleviate poverty, disease and hunger.
Courtesy: Daily Dawn, Saturday, 01 Aug, 2009