Feb 18, 2015

Sindh: Opposition to Gas Infrastructure Development Cess

On Monday 16 February 2015, the Sindh Provincial Assembly adopted a resolution opposing the collection of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess by the federal government. According to the members of the Assembly, decisions regarding minerals and natural resources should be discussed and taken by the Parliament. This resolution was passed in a general context of federal noncompliance to the provinces’ constitutional rights. 

Below is an article published by The News International:

The Sindh Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday opposing the levy of the gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC) by the federal government.

The provincial lawmakers were of the view that the move negated the constitutional rights of the provinces.

The resolution was presented by Pakistan People’s Party MPA Khairunisa Mughal.

Besides the treasury lawmakers, the MPAs belonging to the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz also supported the resolution.

It read: “This House opposes the recovery of the gas levy in the form of the gas infrastructure development cess imposed by federal government”.

Speaking on her resolution, Mughal said the federation had tried to usurp the rights of the provinces by imposing the gas infrastructure cess

She added that the Article-172 of the Constitution had been violated by giving extension of 120 days to the ordinance promulgated last year for the imposition of the GIDC.

“Such decisions regarding minerals and natural resources should be discussed and approved by the parliament,” she said. “The Centre should desist from usurping the rights of provinces.”

The PPP lawmaker said the federal government needed to get its act together and stop its excesses against the provinces. “The extension in the GIDC is tantamount to deceiving the public.”

The assembly also unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the federal government should issue diplomatic passports to the speaker and the deputy speaker and also issue official passports to the MPAs, their spouses and children below age of 18, and senior-grade officers of the assembly secretariat.

Besides, the provincial assembly unanimously passed into law the Sindh Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2015 for amending the Sindh Arms Act, 2013.

The bill was aimed at repealing the application of the Pakistan Arms Ordinance 1965 in the province. Senior education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro presented the bill.

Separately, on a point of order raised by PML-Functional MPA Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh, the provincial assembly discussed the long march of the Shuhuda committee in connection with the Shikarpur imambargah bomb blast on January 30.

Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, who belongs to Shikarpur, and Khuhro were of the view that the Shuhuda committee of Shikarpur should immediately cancel its long march to Karachi as the majority of their demands had been fulfilled by the government including prompt distribution of compensation cheques to the heirs of the victims and the shifting of seriously injured people to Karachi for treatment using a C-130 transport plane. Khuhro said according to news reports the mastermind of Shikarpur bomb blast had been killed by the law enforcement agencies.

He said PPP leader Aftab Shabaan Mirani was in touch with the representatives of Shuhuda committee of Shikarpur to discuss their other grievances.

The Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was also introduced in the assembly. The consideration of the proposed amendment law was deferred by the legislature till February 20.

Khuhro said the bill was aimed at amending the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 in light of the recommendations of Election Commission of Pakistan so that it could carry out the delimitation of constituencies and also take other necessary steps for conducting the local government elections in the province.

An adjournment motion tabled by PML-F MPA Nusrat Sehar Abbasi on the functioning of over 100 private schools in the Sukkur region on an illegal basis was ruled out of order by the chair.

Discussing the adjournment motion, Khuhro said around 1,200 private schools were registered with the government in the Sukkur region.

In the last three months, he added, 20 more private schools in the region were also registered.

On a call attention notice on the kidnapping cases in Khairpur district, PML-F’s Muhammad Rashid Shah showed some pictures wherein the chief minister was sitting some men, who the opposition lawmaker claimed were involved in kidnappings. He also showed another photograph wherein the relatives of the kidnap victims were protesting outside the Chief Minister’s House.