Profiteering during elections

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Making use of the election season, the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) authorities have also decided to make some money off the election campaign by charging for banners and billboards on the city roads, Pakistan Today has learnt.

The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) of the CDGL has devised a plan to generate revenues off the election spring. In this regard the city roads have been divided into three categories: Gulberg, Main Boulevard, Jail Road, Ferozepur Road and Multan Road in Catergory A; the adjoining roads of the main arteries have been classified as Category B while the inroads of bazaars and localities and societies have been set as Category C roads.

According to details, Rs 300 per day has been set for the Category A roads, while Rs200 and Rs100 per day will be charged for B and C category roads.

The decision came after a flood of political banners and flexes had been put up on all major and minor arteries and roads of the metropolitan ahead of the upcoming general elections.

“This is the situation when the election campaign has not even started yet; imagine the situation once it goes in full swing. The authorities have taken this decision at the right moment because now is the time to generate revenues, which is the right of the local government,” a senior official on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today.

The directions of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are crucial in this regard as a particular size has been issued for putting up flexes and billboards for the candidates and the political parties. The PHA authorities will have to ensure that no one violates the directions of the ECP regarding electioneering and campaigning.

The critics also maintain that the challenge for the PHA will be to charge for the banners from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidates who remained in power for five years with the metropolitan being their stronghold.

“The point to ponder is whether the PHA will charge indiscriminately from all stakeholders, as the PML-N has remained in power and all these candidates have been in the government which will be advertising for elections,” another official said.

DG PHA Mehmood while talking to Pakistan Today dispelled the impression that anyone would be absolved from charging. He said the city roads had been identified by law and rates shall be charged from all and sundry. “It does not cover the whole city which will be impossible to collect, but for designated roads under the PHA,” he added.