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KP Assembly Passes FATA Merger Bill

Peshawar (May 27, 2018): In the final phase, a session of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly passed on Sunday the KP-FATA merger bill after it being already approved from the upper and lower chambers of the Parliament.

The session held to vote for the bill was presided over by KP assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, where Chief Minister KP Pervaiz Khattak was also present. The vote count showed that 87 provincial lawmakers voted in favour of the bill while seven in opposition.At the beginning of the session, minority lawmaker Baldev Kumar took oath administered by speaker assembly. The House proceeded to discuss the bill, where Jamaat-e-Islami’s parliamentary leader Anayatullah addressed the assembly.

The JI lawmaker said that Malakand should be given an extensible tax amnesty for 10 years and rs100 billion annual development package should be given to KP similar as FATA.

CM KP Pervaiz Khattak also addressed the KP assembly, where he said that that people have been accusing him of taking bribe from caretaker CM.  “Please don’t bring up allegations,” said Pervaiz Khattak, adding that those levelling blame should provide evidence as well.A resolution was approved in the assembly to exempt Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) from taxes for a time period of 10 years.

The resolution was presented by Dr Haider Ali in the House, which was signed by all the parliamentary leaders of the political parties except for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Fazl.

The resolution demanded a development package of Rs 100 billion for the PATA, same as the FATA region. It also demanded subsidy on electricity.

The resolution also asked for continuation of Sharia justice system in the Malakand Division.

The concerns of PATA lawmakers have been taken up in a letter that KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser wrote to his National Assembly counterpart Ayaz Sadiq, demanding that PATA and FATA be declared as tax-free zones for at least 10 years.

Qaiser stated that the two regions have been exempted from taxes since a long time, which is fair as the areas are badly affected by insurgencies and internal displacement of people due to military operations and natural calamities.Since the constitutional amendment would result in withdrawal of tax exemptions from the tribal areas, MPAs from PATA have shown concern over passage of the bill, the letter reads.

The concerns of MPAs from PATA could hinder the bill from getting the support of two-third of the majority in the provincial assembly.

Therefore, Qaiser had requested Sadiq to provide the sought exemptions on an urgent basis before voting starts on the amended bill in KP Assembly.

The National Assembly and Senate have already passed the bill titled Thirty-First Amendment Act, 2018, paving way for the merger. In the lower house, the bill was moved by Minister for Law and Justice Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk.

Two hundred and twenty-nine parliamentarians voted in favour of the constitutional amendment, while one voted against it. The bill was opposed by government-allied parties JUI-F and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP). In Senate, 71 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill while five opposed the constitutional amendment.

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