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Sindh govt moves SC to gain funds being deposited by Bahria Town

Sindh govt moves SC to gain funds being deposited by Bahria Town

KARACHI: Around a week after the federal government moved the Supreme Court seeking funds being deposited by the Bahria Town Limited for settlement of cases about its project in Karachi, the government of Sindh also submitted an application on Wednesday in the apex court with an identical request.

The Advocate General for Sindh, Salman Talibuddin, filed a three-page application at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry and contended that in its March 21 order, the top court had directed the Bahria Town for down payment to be made to the Sindh government in respect of the rights to be acquired by it from the provincial government for land measuring 16,896 acres in Karachi.

The provincial law officer further said that the federal government faced a severe fiscal crunch due to shortfall in the federal tax collection in the financial year 2018-19.

Therefore, the provincial government, against the budget estimate of Rs605.6 billion, had only received Rs439 billion by June 30 reflecting a shortfall of Rs112 billion and a deficit of Rs74.99bn against revised estimates of Rs508bn against the federal revenue assignment from the divisible pool, he added.

Similarly, the provincial government had only received Rs9.9bn from the federal government against the allocated amount of Rs14.266bn under the Public Sector Development Programme 2018-19, the AG contended and argued that this shortfall in the provincial revenue had jeopardised the development projects that had already been initiated and those that were at various stages of preparation.

Therefore, the provincial law officer said, the Supreme Court should direct that the amount of the down payment already deposited by the Bahria Town, in the account established by the Supreme Court, be transferred to the provincial account of the Sindh government as well as all the future payments in this regard.

He further submitted that the Sindh government undertook that all money received from Bahria Town in the light of Supreme Court order, would only be used by the provincial government for its development projects in a transparent manner under the supervision of a dedicated committee to be constituted by the chief minister.

On March 21, a three-judge SC bench had accepted the Rs460bn offer by the Bahria Town to implement the court’s May 4, 2018, judgement which held that the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) by the Sindh government, its exchange with the private land of the developer and anything done under the provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act, 1912, by the provincial government were illegal and of no legal existence.

The land was granted for launching an incremental housing scheme, but the MDA exchanged it with the land of Bahria Town to launch a scheme of its own, the bench in its verdict had regretted.

On August 22, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor had filed an application stating that the Supreme Court had granted a period of seven years from September 1, 2019 to Aug 31, 2026, for payment of the entire settlement amount to the Supreme Court. While referring to Article 78 of the Constitution the federal law officer the said the amount to be recovered from Bahria Town Limited should be credited in the public account of the federation.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019

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