KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has said the provincial government would not collect advance income tax on behalf of the federal government, saying he had already asked the provincial excise minister to convey the decision to the Centre.
The chief minister’s remarks in the Sindh Assembly came as he briefed the House about his government’s preparations for dealing with the emerging locust crisis in the province.
He informed the House that his government would take every required step, given the availability of fiscal resources, to safeguard the countrymen against emergencies like locusts and the coronavirus epidemic. “For the sake of the country, we will go to any extent,” he remarked.
He urged the federal government to tackle the emerging locust crisis in the country on an emergency basis and in the most serious manner as the issue was related to food security in the country.
He exhorted the federal government to take care of the citizens as the concerned public would not further tolerate how important national issues were being handled by the Centre. Shah was of the view that the federal government had handled the issues of sugar, flour, petrol and the recent crisis of locusts to the utter disadvantage of the people of the country.
Referring to a social media post that had earlier gone viral, the chief minister said a federal minister had stated that they would tackle the locust crisis, in the same manner that they had handled the coronavirus emergency. “This announcement sent a wave of jubilation among the locusts.”
Shah added that the federal government had so far failed to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities related to tackling of the emerging countrywide crisis of locusts.
He informed the House that the federal government had a separate ministry for national food security and research and another dedicated agency for plants that must deal with the locust emergency but these institutions were yet to come into action against the emerging problem threatening the food security of Pakistan.
He said the federal authorities had not fulfilled their obligations regarding aerial spray to be conducted against the locust swarms in the province. He added that the Centre had also not lived up to its commitment to provide aircraft for conducting aerial spray against locusts in Sindh.
Shah lamented that the federal government also did not help out the Sindh government for the purchase of aircraft to tackle the locust emergency.
He said the Centre had failed to fulfill the National Action Plan it had devised earlier this year to tackle the locust emergency.
The chief minister maintained that his government had been compelled to take such a decision after the federal government unilaterally took an adverse decision regarding the levy of the income tax.
Shah said the recent decision of the federal government to increase the prices of petroleum products by 20% to 25% was highly unjust and cruel and meant only to exploit the people.