ISLAMABAD - The Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Wednesday constituted a committee comprising representatives from the federal and provincial governments to develop a uniform policy regarding the agriculture tax and decided to improve the system of revenue collection. The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani discussed in detail the proposals, pertaining to distribution of water resources and non-tax revenue collection, before the budget for the next financial year. The meeting noted that the agriculture tax was primarily the responsibility of the provinces, however to develop a uniform approach the Council agreed on the constitution of the committee to reconcile the policy in this regard. It was also observed that the agriculture tax was already in place. It, however, noted that the system of collection needed to be further improved as it would not only help the provinces work on their ongoing development schemes, but also increase the tax to GDP ratio. The CCI decided that to make the Indus River System Authority (IRSA)financially independent and self-sustaining a nominal levy of 30 paisas per acre at all canal heads will be charged, which would be shared by the provinces, WAPDA, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and it was estimated that an allocation of Rs 27 million per year would be collected. The Council also deliberated on a proposal to streamline the revenue of the regulatory authorities and agreed that the suggestions of the provinces would be subsequently looked into. The CCI also agreed that the amount, collected by various regulatory authorities in the shape of fees, licences, penalty and fines, over and above the budgetary requirements would be deposited in the federal consolidated fund. The meeting noted that though the matter was not directly related to the provinces, but it believed that the provinces would benefit from it ultimately. In view of the increased responsibilities of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) a draft Amendment Bill 2011 was presented to the CCI, which was unanimously approved. The Council was informed that consultations on this matter were held with the private and public sector stakeholders for the past five years and it was agreed that the draft be presented before the parliament for approval. Regarding the devolution of the National Education Foundation and National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), it was decided that the budget including salaries of employees of both the organisations, till June 30, 2011 will be cleared by the federal government. Chairperson of NCHD Dr Nafeesa Shah was tasked to contact the provinces for further continuation of these entities. Regarding the provision of 200 cusecs of water for Islamabad for drinking purposes, it was decided that the Ministry of Water and Power would negotiate with the Government of Sindh on proportionate sharing of water, according to the Water Accord. Earlier, in his opening remarks, Prime Minister Gilani said the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting had been called on a short notice to deliberate and decide upon proposals pertaining to the distribution of water resources and some non-tax revenue proposals before announcement of the Budget for the next financial year. He welcomed the Chief Ministers and Members of the Council in the CCI meeting and said the CCI would deliberate upon a brief but very important agenda. The Prime Minister expressed his confidence and said that by the Grace of Allah and with the help of collective wisdom of the Chief Ministers, the representatives of the Federal Government and the experts, unanimous decisions would be taken in the meeting. The Prime Minister mentioned that the meeting is the 6th meeting of the CCI which is a sure sign that federalism is gaining strength through this institution, being pivotal for equitable distribution of natural and financial resources. He expressed his gratitude to note the spirit of cordiality and collaboration between constituent units of the federation, which was rare in the past. He stated that the recent session of the National Economic Council is a manifestation of this spirit where development projects of Rs 730 billion were approved ensuring regional equity and special consideration for under developed regions of FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The Prime Minister observed that it was also a major paradigm shift to see that the Federal PSDP has been lowered to Rs 300 billion compared to the size of Provincial PSDP. Likewise, Balochistan was allocated 10 per cent additional financial resources over and above the provincial share under the 7th NFC Award, he added. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said devolution of powers after the 18th Amendment has posed greater responsibility on the provincial governments to minimise the difficulties of the people. Talking to Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chief Ministers of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who called on him jointly before the first meeting of National Task Force on polio eradication here at Prime Minister Secretariat, the Prime Minister said it is heartening to note that the federal and all the provincial governments including AJ&K as well as Gilgit-Baltistan are on the same page for according priority to the social sector particularly education and health. He expressed confidence that appropriate allocations will be made in the respective budget on this account. The Federal Minister for Health Riaz Hussain Pirzada was also present in the meeting. The Prime Minister said that the war against terrorism has aggravated the prevalent socio-economic situation and has to be confronted unitedly for further improving the information sharing and coordination among the security and law enforcement agencies of the federal and provincial governments. He said international communitys support to Pakistan in fight against terrorism is encouraging and would further strengthen the resolve to eradicate this menace in the larger interest of peace and prosperity of people as well as of the world. The Chief Ministers apprised the Prime Minister that the provincial governments are committed to focus on social sector development keeping education and health sectors on priority. They assured that the security apparatus in the provinces will be further improved to help eliminate the menace of terrorism. Regarding the support of UK and China in Pakistans efforts to fight terrorism, they mentioned, is indeed encouraging for the people of Pakistan. They hoped the important understanding with US on security issues would help to bring about peace and stability in the region. In the meantime, Japanese envoy in Pakistan Hiroshi Oe Wednesday called on Interior Minister Rehman Malik and appreciated the efforts of Pakistan in war against terror. During the meeting he assured every possible assistance of his country to Pakistan in this war. The two sides also discussed bilateral issues. Japan attaches great importance to its ties with Pakistan, the ambassador said adding these relations would be strengthened in future. Interior Minister Rehman Malik expressed resolve that the relations between the two countries would be made more stronger in coming future. He recalled the assistance provided by Japanese government and its people during recent devastating floods in Pakistan for relief and rehabilitation of the affected Pakistanis. He expressed gratitude to Hiroshi Oe for his countrys support to Pakistan in war against terror.