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Centre, Sindh agree to collaborate

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KARACHI:

Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Finance Mohammad Aurangzeb have agreed to collaborate in an attempt to attract foreign investment and boost exports, thereby enhancing financial stability of the province and the country. This partnership emerged in a meeting between the two officials held at CM House on Saturday. The meeting was attended by PSCM Agha Wasif, Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance Amjad Mahmood, and Provincial Secretary Finance Fayaz Jatoi.

Shah raised concerns, saying that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and other federal entities were illegally implementing atsource deductions, contrary to established policy. He highlighted that the federal government has been deducting money from the provincial government’s head through at-source deduction. Recently, it has deducted a total of Rs13.4 billion, out of which Rs8.2 billion was for Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) and Rs5.2 billion was for Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) bills.

Moreover, the CM pointed out that his government has always paid its electricity bills on time. He asserted that if there were any outstanding bills that needed to be reconciled, the federal government should have brought the issue to their attention instead of making at-source deductions.

Shah also disclosed that the FBR, after reading a news item of the cars registered in Sindh from 1948 to 2015, had deducted Rs6 billion of the province at source. Despite the resolution of the issue, the amount has not been refunded. Assuring the CM, the finance minister said he was working to develop a proper professional working relationship between the federal and provincial organisations. “The federal and provincial organisations and institutions have to work together, learn from each other’s expertise, support each other for growth and cooperate for collective uplift and development,” he said. Additionally, Aurangzeb assured the Shah that the at-source deduction issue would be resolved amicably.

During the meeting, both officials discussed the price escalation of industrial gas. To this, Shah said that the industrialists were quite upset with the increased prices. Acknowledging his concerns, the finance minister said that during his meeting with the industrialists, they also complained to him. Therefore, both parties agreed to discuss the matter with the federal minister for petroleum to resolve the issue. Furthermore, the Sindh chief minister said that no new scheme has been given to the Sindh government in the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), as compared to the other provinces for the last eight years.

Both Aurangzeb and Shah agreed that the issue of PSDP’s new schemes would be discussed with the federal minister for planning and development.

It was also agreed that the federal and provincial governments would work together to develop the agriculture sector on scientific and modern methods. They emphasised that there was amplepotential to cultivate export-quality crops, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products so that they could be exported to earn foreign exchange. The CM informed the federal finance minister that he was working to introduce new technologies to improve crop yield and measures being taken to ensure the provision of certified seed in the market.

Discussing the reconstruction of flood-devastated infrastructure, the CM said that houses, school buildings, and roads were being reconstructed. He expressed concerns that although the donor agencies have extended a helping hand in the reconstruction of flood-affected infrastructure, the funds have not trickled down as was pledged by the international community.

Both ministers also agreed to attract foreign investment in different sectors for which investment procedures would be made simple and automated. Moreover, Aurangzeb appreciated the Sindh chief minister’s efforts in establishing one of the best public-private partnership units.



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