ISLAMABAD   -  Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) was informed that an amount of Rs 10 billion was released to Tribal Areas ahead of National Finance Commission Award (NFC) on special directions of Prime Minister’s office.

Senate body on SAFRON met with Taj Muhammad Afridi in the chair here at Parliament House on Wednesday.

SAFRON Secretary Muhammad Aslam in his briefing informed that a total amount of Rs 41.7 billion was released to Tribal Areas that included developmental and non-developmental expenditures including salaries of Khasadar and Levies force.

He said that from next fiscal year the role of SAFRON would be no more in financial matters and the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would receive finances in their account from the Federal government. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Planning and Development Department Chief Economist Zaheerud Din gave a detailed briefing regarding funds allocations for Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2018-19.

He said that 70 percent amount was allocated for ongoing projects while 30 per cent for new the projects.

The Committee directed the Planning and Development Department to give detailed briefing about ongoing projects in its next meeting.

The Committee was of the view that ongoing projects should be completed at earliest so that concentration may be given to upcoming projects.

Chief Executive Officer of Tribal Electricity Supply Company (TESCO) Mian Muhammad Hamid also briefed the Committee on the issue of tax exemption and electricity supply to the Tribal Areas. He said that TESCO did not get any orders in writing for the tax exemption yet company provided relief to the consumers.

“TESCO would not be able to continue this practice if Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) keeps on collecting the tax from the company”, he added.

The Committee inquired from the FBR about the tax exemptions on imports and electricity, in response member FBR said there were some procedural delays on part of their office due to change in management. He informed that budget documentation was in process and an interim order would be released to provide relief on imports, however, tax on electricity had been a continuous practice. 

The Committee decided to take briefing from National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, National Transmission and Despatch Company and other relevant authorities regarding provision of tax exempted electricity to TESCO.

The Committee appreciated the role of TESCO management in ensuring eight hours electricity in Tribal Areas especially in time of Sehr and Iftar during the holy month of Ramazan.

Regarding the tax relief scheme for the duration of five years, member Committee Shammim Afridi demanded that procedural delays should not be included in relief time.

Besides officials of TESCO, FBR and development department, member Committee Hidayatullah, Najma Hameed and Shammim Afridi attended the meeting while Senator Khanzada Khan was specially invited.