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SHC restricts collection of KMC taxes with electricity bills for now

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  • SHC remarks applying municipal charges via KE is inappropriate.
  • Says it will restore tax collection if city administration satisfies it.
  • Restricts KMC from collecting taxes under KE bills till next hearing.

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday temporarily restricted the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) from collecting municipal taxes with electricity bills.

The court remarked that the tax collection will be restored when the city administration satisfies it over the matter.

The directive came during the hearing of a plea filed on September 23, by Jamat-e-Islami leader Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, against KMC’s tax collection in K-Electric bills.

Under the Sindh Local Government Act 2021, the provincial government had in April directed the power utility to collect municipal utility charges and taxes (MUTC).

As per an agreement signed between the KMC and K-Electric (KE), the former aims to earn an estimated Rs3 billion yearly by collecting MUCT, through KE’s power bills.

Under the agreement, the power utility would keep 7% of the amount as its collection charges, which amounts to Rs300 million.

An official of the KMC said the KE would collect the tax from 24 million units across the city. 

Today’s hearing

During today’s hearing, Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab informed the court that the KMC taxes range from Rs50 to Rs200, requesting the court not to restrict the tax collection now. He assured the court of presenting all the details at the next hearing.

“Taxes as high as Rs5,000 have been waived and reduced to Rs200,” he said.

At this, the court told Wahab to make recoveries through third parties.

“Make the recoveries however you want but not through KE,” it remarked.

The court also restricted KE not to cut off power connections of consumers who are unable to pay the taxes.

“Earlier, the taxes were going to someone else’s pockets but now KMC will receive it,” Wahab contended.

When asked about what facilities the city administration would give to the citizens in exchange of taxes, Wahab said that the taxes will be used in construction of roads, underpasses and bridges.

“Will you do all [your] work with people’s money?” the court inquired.

“The Centre is giving a lot of money to the province. Karachi is provided with funds like alms (bheek),” Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi.

He rebuked Wahab referring to the dilapidation of roads and other infrastructural faults and increasing robberies in the city.

At this, Wahab said that KMC has the responsibility of 209 roads.

“If you are doing all of the work then what is the Sindh government doing?” the justice asked.

He objected to why “double charges” are imposed on the people when they are already paying property and motor vehicle taxes.

“Applying municipal charges through KE is not appropriate,” the court remarked while restricting KMC from collecting the municipal taxes with electricity bills till the next hearing. 

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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