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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas has recommended that in view of the problems of the people in formerly FATA, PATA, and Zhob, sales tax and income tax exemption should be extended for another five years after June 2023.

The meeting of the committee presided over by Senator Usman Khan Kakar was informed under 25th Constitutional Amendment, FATA, PATA and Zhob income tax and sales tax exemption was given up to June 2023, upon this, the committee chairman and members of the committee recommended that exemption should be extended for another five years.

The committee also highlighted that 80 percent agriculture in the Balochistan province was destroyed due to scarcity of water, and the province which was equal to half the country in terms of land, has been facing water problem.

A committee member also expressed concern over treatment meted out to the traders of Balochistan while transporting dry fruits, vegetable, and watermelons to the other parts of the country as their vehicles are being stopped at different points and certain items are also being taken out from the vehicles.

However, the Commerce Division said that under no law, a trader could be stopped from taking their products to the other parts of the country from Balochistan province and they would take necessary measures to resolve the problem.

Some members of the committee deplored that the province remained neglected and this is evident from the fact that nothing has been done for the welfare of mine workers during the last 63 years.

The meeting was informed that at present, the country was exporting chromite as raw material, whereas, its export as a finishing product can earn significant foreign exchange for the country.

On the issue of making Chaman Custom gateway operational round the clock, the committee was informed that shortage of custom staff was a major reason and a summary for recruitment of 750 officials was sent to the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) as the border cannot be made operational 24 hours as long as adequate officials are not available.

The committee recommended that appointment at 750 positions must be made as soon as possible.

The committee also recommended that strict action should be taken against smugglers at custom gateways at Torkham, Badani by Chaman as they are smuggling drugs and weapons and causing huge loss to the country, after detailed discussion on import and exports activities at these custom gateways.

The committee further recommended that importers and exporters – who are paying taxes to the government – should be facilitated, instead of creating problems for them at the border.

The chairman of the committee and members expressed concern over increase in bribe taking at Chaman, Badani, and Torkham custom gateways, and stated that gates were being opened at night for specific people to allow them to smuggle weapons and drug (ice) after taking bribe from them, while on the other hand, traders, who are paying taxes to the government, have to wait in long queues at the border.

The committee meeting convened in the evening to take the issue of medical scholarship to the students of FATA and PATA was adjourned after expressing displeasure over absence of Secretary Health, and the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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