Opposition gives tough time to excise minister in PA


LAHORE: Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman on failed to satisfy opposition members on their queries during the question hour session in the Punjab Assembly on Monday. The opposition members gave the minister a tough time and finally the minister, while admitting the failure of the department to achieve target set for property tax collection for the fiscal years 2007-08 and 2008-09, claimed upward trend in revenue collection after the said years.
He said it happened due to the government’s effective measures, but his answer did not satisfy the mover. Responding to a supplementary question of opposition legislator Mohsin Leghari, the minister said revenue collection targets were not achieved during the previous regime, but now there was an upward trend due to realistic target setting and proper collection.
Leghari said either there was wrong fixation of targets or inefficiency of the department to meet the set goals. The minister said the accumulation of arrears was also causing high targets for revenue collection, adding that possible increase in tax rate was also taken into consideration while setting new targets, but later the idea was dropped to avoid additional burden on the masses. He said despite the obstacles, Punjab was the only province that completed property tax collection target during the last fiscal year.
To a supplementary question of Seemal Kamran, the minister said there was a complete ban on the sale of drugs at hotels and other places and his department and police could take action against violations. He said that there was no report of any person consuming drugs at hotels in Murree and other cities, adding that there specified law to deal with such cases. To another supplementary question by Naseem Lodhi, Rehman said four hotels in Lahore were selling liquor to non-Muslims having permits.
On Lodhi’s insistence that revenue collection from the production of liquor and its usage for Muslims was prohibited, the minister said that he could not issue such a decree. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal said consumption of liquor and other intoxication was not allowed not only in Islam, but also in other religions, including Christianity.
Replying to a supplementary question by Waseem Qadir regarding the number of factories in PP-144, the minister said the department was carrying out a fresh survey and the number of functional factories could be more than the mentioned 41 units.
Rehman said the department had completed the process of computerised registration of vehicles in all 36 districts of the province.