Karachi -  Sindh Assembly on Wednesday finished its entire agenda and passed five government bills.

The assembly’s session began at 11:30 am; one-and-a-half-hour behind schedule, with Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani in the chair.

The House’s agenda included a question hour session, five call attention notices.

The bills that were passed were: Sindh Coal Authority (Amendment) Bill 2017, Sindh Revenue Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017, Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill 2017, Sindh Development and Maintenance of Infrastructure Cess Bill 2017 and Sindh Shaheed Recognition and Compensation (Amendment) Bill 2017.

The provincial assembly unanimously passed the Sindh Coal Authority (Amendment) Bill 2017, which is aimed at ensuring smooth functioning of the Sindh Coal Authority.  

Under the bill, the provincial government expanded the working of the Authority and permitted it to execute schemes within or outside the coal mine area after getting permission from the government.

It further constituted a board consisting of minister for energy or a cabinet member as its chairman, along with other members, including chairman provincial planning and development board, secretaries of energy and finance departments, four members of the provincial assembly and a non-official member.

The law also describes working structure of the Authority like it says that meetings of the board would be held at least once in six months.

It also gives the Authority to ensure gratuity, provident funds and benevolent funds schemes for the benefit of the employees.

The opposition lawmakers also demanded to add pension in the benefits. However, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said there was no provision of pension for staffers in corporations, and therefore if any amendment was introduced, it would be meant for all the corporations or authorities.

The assembly also passed the Sindh Shaheed Recognition and Compensation (Amendment) Bill 2017 aimed at providing jobs to two legal heirs of a slain police officer; from BS-01 to BS-15.

The conditions of age and qualification would also be relaxed for those who are provided with these jobs.

MQM Parliamentary Leader Syed Sardar Ahmed called for ensuring qualification in the process and said that if exemption was to be given on qualification then it should only be given from BS-01 to BS-05; not beyond.

The parliamentary minister, however, opposed it and said that these jobs were provided on humanitarian grounds; therefore there was no need to do so.

The House also unanimously passed Sindh Revenue Board Amendment Bill 2017.

The opposition members although initially opposed its contents, but later dropped their opposition at the time of its passage.

The House also witnessed a heated argument between former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and Opposition Leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan.

Qaim took the credit for the collection of around Rs60 billion by the Sindh Revenue Board, saying it was due to his efforts. “Initially when we sought permission from the federal government for collecting sales tax on services, Federal Minister Ishaq Dar and other provinces opposed it,” he said.

However, he said the Sindh government had accepted the challenge and had now raised the tax collection from five billion to sixty billion rupees and would further increase it in two years to Rs100 billion.

“Those who say that PPP has done nothing for its people should be aware that it was the PPP which benefitted the province through this act,” he said.

Responding to it, Khawaja Izharul Hassan said that the Sindh Revenue Board should be termed as Karachi Revenue Board as all money it collected was from Karachi.

“Whenever the government has to mint money it allows everyone to speak on the bill, but when it comes to either giving due share in the city or powers to its elected representatives, it refuses to do so,” he regretted.

He wondered how situation in the province could improve if the amounts collected from Karachiites were to be spent on the constituencies of PPP lawmakers.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that no one would be allowed to divide the province.

He asked Izhar to give up this type of politics.

He clarified that the amendments had been made in order to avoid the situation like the one existed in Punjab Revenue Board whose functioning was disbanded on court orders due to technical faults in legislation.

The bill included structural changes in the Revenue Board with the inclusion of slot for acting chairman in the Board along with the appointment of the board chairman or a member for three years even if he attained the age of superannuation. The appointment or nomination could further be extended for two years if the person did not reach the age of 65.

The chairman was further empowered to take any of the action on behalf of the board.

The House passed Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill 2017, which authorises the institute to confer or award degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic distinctions and further affiliate with any university and disaffiliate medical institutions and inspect colleges and other educational institutions affiliated or seeking affiliation with it.

It further formed a board to oversee affairs of the institute with minister for health or any member of the cabinet as its chairman, secretary health as vice chairman and members, including four members of the provincial assembly, secretary finance or his nominee and several others.

The office of the member will fall vacant if he resigns or fails to attend three consecutive meetings of the board without sufficient cause for leave or absence. 

The institute was also allowed to enter into an agreement with the private sector entities for outsourcing the management and service delivery of the whole or part of the institute.

It also formed an academic council that would comprise of professors and associate professors, who would elect a chairman from amongst them for a period of two years and also nominate a student representative.

The House also passed Sindh Development and Maintenance of Infrastructure Cess Bill 2017 in order to levy infrastructure development cess on goods entering and leaving the province.

The cess would be utilised for maintenance and development of infrastructure and other activities.

The amount of cess levied includes 1.10 percent of total value of goods as assessed by the custom authorities plus one paisa per kilometer on up to 1250 kilograms.

The cess would then be raised by 0.01 with an increase of weight table that includes above 1250 kilograms upto 2030 kilograms, above 2030 kilograms upto4060 kilograms, above 4060 kilograms upto 8120 kilograms, above 8120 kilograms and upto 16000 kilograms and weight exceeding 16000 kilograms. Cess on gold would be charged at the rate of 0.125 percent of the value of gold.

In case of non-payment of cess within a period of one month, the owner would be liable to pay a penalty of amount not more than the amount of cess evaded.

The penalty of a certain amount could also be waived with secretary excise and taxation having the authority to waive off upto Rs 200,000, director general upto Rs 100,000 and director upto Rs 10,000. In case of further waiver, only the provincial government has the authority to do so.

The claim of cess could only be made within a period of three months.

Meanwhile, responding to an adjournment motion of MQM lawmaker Zafar Kamali pertaining to lack of water supply in Mirpurkhas due to strengthening work of Jumrho, the minister for parliamentary affairs said that the work had to be completed by April 5 but still the water supply is ensured to the city from two other sources.

He further said that the municipal and district authorities were informed to store water in reservoirs before initiating work on Jumrho in order to avoid shortage but they were unable to do so.

Meanwhile, replying to another call attention notice of MQM lawmaker Aamir Moin Pirzada regarding water shortage in Sector 33 and 34 of Korangi due to fault in a small pipeline, the local government minister Jam Khan Shoro assured installation of a 24-inch water pipeline in order to ensure proper water supply to the areas.

The minister further assured MQM lawmaker Jamal Ahmed on his call attention notice pertaining to the presence of illegal slums in his constituency, Shadman Town, that the slums would be removed.

The House was later adjourned by the speaker till Friday.