KARACHI: The dismayed Administrator Karachi Barrister Murtaza Wahab on Monday announced his resignation from the office, apparently in protest against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC’s) decision to temporarily restricting Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) from collecting the Municipal Utility Charges and Taxes (MUCT) through K-Electric bills.
Addressing a press conference, Murtaza Wahab said K-Electric was chosen to collect an annual Rs3.25 billion on account of MUCT because it is a public limited company that is audited regularly.
He alleged that some forces don’t let him do his job efficiently. It’s not easy to work in this city as everything is resisted here. “It would have been easier for me to ask the prime minister and the chief minister for funds, but I did not, as I believe that the law is the only solution. I loved KMC, rather loving my pocket. Perhaps this was my mistake.”
Following SHC’s decision, “we all know that our efforts will now be fruitless,” Wahab said.
Wahab later on submitted his resignation letter with the Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, requesting him to direct the Local Government Department to de-notify him.
The letter stated: “During my tenure, I tried my level best to resolve the problems of our beautiful city and the ailing KMC. I tried to alleviate the grim financial situation of KMC to make it a viable organisation. We have achieved much, and I am pleased to state that service delivery of KMC has improved.”
However, “I regrettably submit that I am unable to continue any further as Administrator, KMC due to personal reasons. Hence, I tender my resignation from the post of Administrator,” he said.
Barrister Murtaza Wahab was appointed KMC administrator on August 6, 2021.
Wahab’s resignation comes at a time when the city’s infrastructure is deteriorated due to the recent monsoon rains and require immediate government attention.
Though, KMC under the leadership of Murtaza Wahab initiated post-rain road infrastructure development works on some city roads, but his abrupt resignation from the post of administrator may create obstacles in smooth functioning of KMC affairs in days to come. Wahab said the law empowers and authorises Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to impose taxes.
He said after a year-long effort, he convinced K-Electric to collect MUCT charges from consumers on behalf of KMC, and deposit the same to KMC exchequer each month. KE is regulated by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and it submits its balance sheet to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).
KMC was to collect around Rs3.25 billion annually on account of MUCT and this amount would have been utilised for the development of infrastructure of Karachi. However, he said the SHC on Monday stopped KMC from collecting MUCT through KE.
“When the city roads are submerged, nobody knocks on Waseem Akhtar or Naeem-ur-Rehman’s door, and the citizens question me, the government, and the KMC for answers,” Wahab added.
He said MUCT was not a new tax, rather the same was introduced by then City Nazim Mustafa Kamal, and the same continued in Mayor Wasim Akhtar tenure.
The tax slab was from Rs50 to Rs5000 per month. However, Wahab said he reduced the tax rate to maximum Rs250 and opted KE, a public sector firm, for the collection of the same on behalf of KMC in order to ensure transparency. Wahab said Waseem Akhtar had hired a private contractor to collect the taxes.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022