KARACHI: Not a single landlord paid agriculture income tax (AIT) in Sukkur district during 2012-13, Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro informed legislators on Monday.
He was responding to the queries made by the legislators during the question hour, which pertained to the revenue department, in the Sindh Assembly’s Monday session that was chaired by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. Mr Khuhro was responding to the questions as Makhdoom Jameel-uz-Zaman, who holds the portfolio concerned, was not present in the assembly during the question hour.
In reply to a query by Mutahida Quami Movement (MQM) legislator Sumeta Syed regarding the AIT by Sukkur district landlords, the minister said that though there were 157 landlords who came under the farm tax net, none of them had paid it.
Similar was the case with the Ghotki district landlords where out of 141, who came under the AIT net, only four had paid the tax during 2012–13. In response to another of her question, he said that out of 7,366 landlords who came under the net all over the province, only 1,343 (roughly 18 per cent) had paid the AIT during the year.
In reply to another of her queries that what punitive steps had been taken against the defaulters, Mr Khuhro said the farm tax collection was the job of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) which came under the federal government and the Sindh government had no control over it.
He said the assistant commissioners also needed to be more vigilant to take steps against the defaulters.
MQM legislator Sardar Ahmed, a retired bureaucrat who had served the government in many capacities including the Sindh chief secretary, immediately got up and informed the minister as well as the legislators that it was not the responsibility of the FBR to collect the AIT. To which Mr Khuhro did not offer any response.
To a question by MQM legislator Heer Soho regarding steps taken to increase the AIT net and reason why the landlords did not pay the AIT, the minister said the landlords considered that they were being discriminated against.
Citing an example, he said that other sections of the society, including businessmen and salaried people, were exempted from paying the income tax if their income was up to Rs400,000 whereas exemption for landlords was up to Rs80,000. So if a landlord’s income was Rs400,000, he would be paying Rs22,000 plus 15 per cent of income above Rs300,000 (which comes to Rs15,000). And if his income was Rs400,000, he would be paying Rs37,000 as total AIT.
He urged the need to look into the landlords’ concerns and if these were found to be true, the tax laws should be reviewed so that their concern regarding the discrimination was addressed.
A written reply to a question asked by MQM legislator Mazahir Khan regarding district / domicile wise number of recruitment made in the Sindh Board of Revenue between Jan 1, 2012 and Oct 31, 2013, said that the recruitment after Dec 31, 2010 were under inquiry vide notification dated Oct 2, 2015 so the information could be submitted after completion of the inquiry.
A written reply to a question by Pakistan Muslim League (F) legislator Nand Kumar regarding AIT collected from the province from 2010 to 2013, said that during 2010–11, the AIT target was Rs8 million out of which Rs4.9 million were collected.
Similarly, the next year against a target of Rs 7.9 million, Rs 6.6 million was collected and in 2012–13 against a target of Rs 112 million, Rs 101 million was collected.
Pakistan Peoples Party legislator Bahadur Dahri pointed out that the pervious Mukhtiyarkar of Qazi Ahmed talkua charged between Rs200,000 and Rs 300,000 from landlords for the issuance of “Form 7” while the incumbent Mukhtiarkar was charging Rs200,000 for the same form. What the actual official fee of the “Form 7” was, he asked. Mr Khuhro said it was not a supplementary question.
Speaker Durrani also asked the legislator that if he had any compliant / information against the Mukhtiarkar, it should be passed on to the minister so that it could be looked into.
Answering a question by Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf leglslator Seema Zia regarding non-surveyed lands in different parts of the province, the minister said that in Tharparkar, the desert and sand dunes, in Kohistan the mountains and hills and the land between the embankments which was called the riverbed or the kutcha areas, were not surveyed.
To a question by MQM legislator Poonjo Bheel, the minister said there were 155,908 survey numbers in Tharparkar district, that included 16,725 survey numbers in Mithi taluka, 23,014 in Diplo taluka, 51,311 in Chhachhro taluka, 47,133 in Nagarparkar and 17,725 survey numbers in Islamkot .
A written reply to a question by the same legislator regarding irrigated as well as cultivated land in Mithi and Diplo talukas, said that in Mithi taluka, over 2400 acres were barrage irrigated out of which over 600 acres were cultivated while in Diplo taluka out of over 48,000 acres of barrage irrigated land around 7,400 acres were cultivated.
MQM legislators Irum Farooqui, Kamran Akhtar, Mahmood Razzaque, Ashfaque Mangi and PTI legislator Samar Ali Khan, and others also participated in the question hour.