Entertainment tax not being collected from cinemas, PA told -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Entertainment tax not being collected from cinemas, PA told

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Entertainment duty is not being collected from the cinema houses in the city as most of them are in the cantonment board areas, outside the jurisdiction of the department, said Sindh excise and taxation minister Mukesh Chawla on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional legislator Nusrat Sehar Abbasi during the question hour — pertaining to the excise and taxation department — during the Tuesday session of the Sindh Assembly.

The minister said Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, after meeting a delegation of people associated with the film industry/ cinemas in 2006, had verbally exempted the cinema houses from entertainment tax.

Senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator Sardar Ahmed said that the issue of the governor’s verbal order had already been discussed in the assembly and it was decided that the department would resume tax collection. Answering another question regarding the cinemas in the cantonment areas, the senior legislator, who had earlier held senior government posts, including that of the provincial chief secretary, said the Sindh Assembly’s jurisdiction was all over the province and no area in Sindh was outside its jurisdiction. The minister asked the legislator that keeping in view his long bureaucratic experience he could guide the excise department in those matters and that his suggestion would be looked into to increase the government revenue.

In response to a question by Naila Muneer of the MQM regarding entertainment duty (ED) collected between 2009 and 2011, the minister said over Rs65 million ED was collected during that period from: a) amusement parks; b) water parks; c) stage plays and shows; d) musical concerts; e) sports and games; and f) commercial exhibitions.

Pakistan People’s Party legislator Naeem Kharal said it had been reported time and again that excise staff caught drug dealers and seized charas from them, but later the seized material when checked/ tested in laboratories was declared coal, or some other non-objectionable commodity. He asked how that happened when the seized goods were in the custody of excise staff and that if the department staff changed it. The minister said that when, on information or acting randomly, a raid was conducted and suspicious stuff was found, it was seized and then the samples of the goods were sent to different laboratories, and if the laboratory results showed that those goods were non-objectionable, they were released. After all, he said, excise staffers were also human beings and could make mistakes, but the goods were taken into custody on suspicion and sent for testing to get an authenticated report.

Motorcycle registration

The minister said he did not agree with Ms Abbasi that 99 per cent of the motorcycles in the city were not registered, and said almost all motorcycles in the city were registered and till Oct 31, 2013 over 1.6 million motorcycles were on city roads. Besides, he said, it was the responsibility of the traffic police to check unregistered vehicles though excise staff also sometimes conducted checking.

In reply to a question regarding motorcycle-rickshaws, commonly known as Qingqis, that had outnumbered all other forms of public transport, that if they were being registered, the minister said a committee had been formed to evaluate the situation and after it gave its recommendations, a policy would be formulated.

Minister Chawla agreed with an MQM legislator who had raised the issue of spirit and some adhesives chemicals (Samad Bond, etc), fumes of which were inhaled by many children to get intoxicated, and easy availability of the stuff at shops and suggested that some laws be made to prevent their misuse. The minister urged the legislators to join hands to formulate such laws.

Responding to a question by Irum Farooqui of the MQM that since narcotics came from other provinces, if the excise department took up the matter with those provinces also to trace the sources of the illegal goods, the minister said it was very rare and only if a huge quantity of drugs was caught then the help of other provinces was also sought or routes/ sources were traced. Otherwise cases were registered where the contraband was seized.

Answering a question by Naheed Begum of the MQM regarding the quantity of charas received and people caught between July 2009 and June 2013, the minister said 1,271 people had been arrested and over 25,982kg charas seized from them during that period. In reply to a question regarding its (charas) disposal, the minister said that after the case was decided and goods were confiscated, they were burnt.

Sohrab Sarki, Ghulam Mujtaba Isran, Perveen Junejo of the PPP; Mohammad Hussain Syed, Moen Pirzada, Diwan Chand Chawla, Bilquis Mukhtar and Sumeta Syed of the MQM; Khurram Sherzaman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, and others also participated.