- Money starved civic agency has long been selling plots to cover its expenses including salaries and maintenance work
ISLAMABAD: ‘Today’s Investment Tomorrow’s Prosperity’ reads the pamphlet issued by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to advertise the auction of 45 commercial plots located all over the city which will go under the hammer from March 27-29 at Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad.
However, beyond the bells and the jingles of billboards and advertisements, the ugly reality stares at all who care to notice: CDA is a cash-starved entity that has to sustain itself by generating its own revenue.
Following the past practices, CDA is all set to auction 45 plots of various categories including commercial, class-III shopping centers, apartments, filling stations, hospital, hotel and industrial land in sectors F-6, F-8, F-10, F-7, G-8, G-9, 1-10, D-12, H-11, H-8, I-8, I-14, Margalla Town, Shahzad Town, and Diplomatic Enclave among other sectors.
According to authorities, the auction will bag billions of rupees for the civic agency and will provide an opportunity for expansion to the business community and convenience to masses.
It is pertinent to mention here that smooth functioning of CDA depends on generating its own revenue to meet its expenditures, pay salaries to its employees and officers and undertake massive maintenance and construction works all over the city. The government of Pakistan gives money to CDA under PSDP alone.
At present, CDA generates its revenue from multiple sources including property tax, water tax, billboard tax, transfer fees from plots, and fees for map approval among others. However, the revenue generated through these sources is paltry and fails to meet the enormous needs of an organisation the size of CDA.
Therefore, in order to plug the gap, the civic agency auctions valuable commercial plots around the capital. Rs3.75 billion was generated in December 2016 alone after selling 8 commercial plots to help CDA keep its machinery afloat, pay salaries to its employees, and spend money on development projects and maintenance work.
Sources privy to the whole exercise of auction undertaken by CDA almost every year told Pakistan Today that the commercial auction of plots is necessary, although not a permanent source of revenue for CDA.
“The CDA needs a continuous revenue source that delivers at regular monthly, yearly intervals. Whenever CDA develops a new sector, it helps us create huge and multiple revenue streams,” he said, adding that the selling and transfer of plots, development of commercial areas and collection of civic taxes all make for revenue generation that keeps on giving.
“Unfortunately, CDA has been lax at developing new sectors of late,” the source said.
The present auction committee comprises of 11 members headed by Member Finance Fahd Haroon Aziz, with Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kiyani and Member Estate Khushal Khan as its members. The other members belong to the law, finance, estate management, planning and other directorates.
After the auction is concluded, the plots approved will be sent to the CDA board for final approval.
While talking to Pakistan Today, Public Relations Deputy Director and CDA spokesperson Malik Saleem said that the auction will be fair and transparent. “These auctions not only provide business community opportunities but also allows for economic activities to flourish in the city. The auctioned plots will give the cause a boom in infrastructure and construction sector as well,” he said.
The responsibility to keep the capital up and running lies squarely on the shoulders of a now-truncated CDA. The question that city managers need to answer is: Do they have the vision and the courage to address the perennial dilemma or will they keep on relying on the stop-gap arrangements like selling of plots to make ends meet?