Hours before the historic session of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly to pass the FATA Reforms bill, the speaker of the assembly, Asad Qaiser voiced concerns regarding the issue of tax exemption enjoyed by the people of Malakand Division.
He said that the bill will roll back tax immunity previously granted to the people of Malakand division.
Qaiser wrote a letter to the Speaker of National Assembly, Ayaz Sadiq informing him about the objections raised by lawmakers belonging to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA-the Malakand Division) over the omission of the tax exemption enjoyed by the people of Pata before the 31st Constitutional Amendment Act 2018.
The law, after being passed from the provincial assembly will end the tax exemption extended to Pata and Fata by the government of Pakistan as their status will get changed with the law.
Earlier, the K-P speaker convened a meeting of the parliamentary leaders of political parties to discuss and strategize for securing the two-thirds majority needed for passing the law.
In the meeting, the lawmakers belonging to the seven districts of Malakand Division or Pata expressed their concerns over the cessation of the tax exemption.
In the letter, Qaiser also expressed that lawmakers are facing difficulty in securing two-thirds majority and explained that the issue of tax exemption was not addressed in the previous assembly sessions.
The lawmakers are demanding an extension of the tax exemption to last for at least 10 years as the people have gotten used to the historic by-laws and need time to adjust to the new reforms.
“Their demands are justified for the reasons that both Fata and Pata have been exempted from taxes historically. The areas have also suffered the most by insurgencies and mass internal displacement due to military operations and natural calamities”, the letter states.
The exemption has been demanded through appropriate legal instruments adhering to various taxation laws referred to on urgent basis before the voting of the bill in the provincial assembly.
Qaiser informed the media that he has discussed the issue with Ayaz Sadiq, who assures that the exemption will be maintained.
K-P Chief minister’s spokesperson Shaukat Yousafzai also said that the Prime Minister has also agreed to the exemption and has assured that it will be granted.