The provincial government has deprived the Tehsil Municipal Administrations (TMAs) of over Rs3 billion earning in 2015 by launching the new Cattle Market Management Company (CMMC), as the local governments have been stopped to auction cattle market in their areas. The new cattle market management company system has provided some relief of taxes to sellers and buyers but ended the income of local governments which were earlier totally dependent on auctioning of cattle markets.

This was revealed by the participants of a meeting, who claimed that abolition of old method of auctioning of cattle markets had rendered ten of hundreds people jobless attached with cattle buying or selling or providing other allied services in these markets including tea or food vendors. They said that income of TMAs had dwindled, damaging the sewerage, soling, water supply or street light projects in their respective areas. The participants were from all walks of life including traders, growers, former local legislators, media and civil society representatives.

The meeting was arranged by the Tax Justice Roundtable Forum, which is a platform of people from different civil society organizations hailing from six different districts of the Punjab province aimed at discussing different issues being faced by the local area people. Khaliq Shah, Focal Person of Tax Justice Roundtable Forum and Irfan Ilahi of Actionaid also attended the meeting.

The participants said that the new system has not only created severe financial hardships for the TMAs of the Punjab to carry out development works in their respective areas but some of the TMAs are virtually unable to pay salaries of their employees and meet other administrative expenses. They said it seemed the new system had been introduced without any thorough research and consultation with the local government representatives or the people of those areas. ‘This decision has deprived an annual income of Rs 220 million to TMA Layyah only and now it was facing such a financial crunch that it could not pay salaries of its employees, run the filtration plants in the area or ensure exodus of sewerage water’, said one of the participant.

The gathering urged the government of Punjab to immediately extend grants to the TMAs facing deficits because of stopping them from auction of cattle markets so as they could carry out people welfare projects. They said already these TMAs were facing liquidity issues because of abolition of Octroi system. They also said that the government should review its decision and take steps to bridge the financial deficit of local governments’ side by side introduction of new improved systems of governance.