-Sales tax on the service sector from 15 to 5 per cent on chartered accountant firms to be slashed
–Rs10 billion requested from federal government for infrastructure development in the merged tribal districts
PESHAWAR: The first-ever historic meeting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) cabinet declared merged tribal districts as `tax-free’ areas, exempting them from provincial taxes that were supposed to be levied after the merger.
The meeting that took place in held in Jirga Hall Landikotal on Thursday was chaired by KP Chief Minister (CM) Mahmood Khan.
During the meeting, it decided that taxes already in vogue in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) will remain intact and no new tax will be extended to the merged districts.
Briefing newsmen about the decisions taken in the cabinet meeting, KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said that the railway track from Peshawar to Landikotal would be restored to revive the glorious safari train service from Peshawar to Landi Kotal as well as introducing it in tribal areas.
He explained that the meeting had focused on decisions taken by the government for implementation in erstwhile FATA and important decisions were taken for promotion of tourism in the merged areas was in connection to this matter.
He informed that the cabinet also approved the formation of the KP Tourism Development Authority (TDA) comprising additional chief secretary, secretary finance and secretary sports as its members. The authority will initiate, plan, facilitate, manage, preserve and promote cultural heritage, develop destination and tourism as an industry. It will also come up with solid recommendations for the promotion of tourism in the province.
Replying to a question, Yousafzai denied the impression that there was a dispute between the tourism and forest departments regarding the ownership of rest houses. He declared in clear terms that all the rest houses located at scenic resorts would be managed and supervised by the Tourism Department.
The Cabinet also decided to slash sales tax on the service sector from 15 to 5 per cent on chartered accountant firms. Similarly, the Cabinet also approved supplementary grants for Swat Expressway and Abbotabad by-pass projects.
The KP information minister told that the Cabinet meeting had also discussed the proposed bill regarding the developing of a safety mechanism for coal mine workers in the province.
He said that scores of coal mine workers belonging to Dir, Shangla, Buner and Swat were killed in mine accidents due to lack of safety measures at their workplace.
“It was also decided that the matter regarding the payment of net hydel profits on the small hydel dams to the districts where it has been constructed would be taken up,” said Yousafzai while adding that scores of small dams are constructed in Shangla and Kohistan districts but are not being paid.
The PC:1 for construction of tehsil buildings in 16 tehsils of merged areas with the objective of extending municipal services there was approved while orders for the induction of 17,000 employees in various vacant positions in the merged areas on merit basis were given to the concerned authorities.
Speaking on the occasion, Provincial Secretary Health Dr Farooq Jamil briefed the Cabinet about the first health policy 2018-25 under which the health care system in the hospitals would be strengthened with the main focus on the provision of standard, durable health facilities to the citizens.
“The new health policy would also envisage accountability and transparency in human resources (HR), management, and governance in the health facilities,” Dr Jamil added.
He said that a special focus will be given on preventive measures to stop the spread of epidemics besides formulating an efficient mechanism for responding to emergencies in hospitals.
Provincial Health Minister Dr Hisham told the cabinet that the lacunae would be removed in the health sector to ensure better medicare facilities in public sector hospitals so that the poor segment of the society could benefit.
Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said that a task force will be raised for effective guarding of Torkham border. “The provincial government has requested the federal government for Rs10 billion for infrastructure development in the merged tribal districts,” he added.
KP Inspector General of Police (IGP) Salauddin Mehsud told the Cabinet that `Shalwar-Kameez’ will be the uniform of security forces in the merged districts adding that this decision was taken while keeping tribal traditions in view.
“There is a proper quota for merged areas in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) force to be created in the country,” he added.
The IGP also informed that a 22,000 strong khasadar levy force will be merged into the regular police force while kins of disabled khasadar and levy personnel over 60 years of age would be inducted in the police force.