Tax-free zone status demanded for Gilgit-Baltistan

GILGIT, Sept 7: A member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly has moved a resolution in the house demanding that the posts of the Pakistan Customs and Federal Investigation Agency should be moved out of the territorial limits of the region. [caption id="attachment_3797" align="alignleft" width="159" caption="GBLA speaker Wazir Baig"][/caption]In the resolution moved during the 24th sitting of the house, Raziuddin Rizvi said the region should be declared customs-free and the posts should be set up in the jurisdiction of Basra and Kohistan. In other terms, Mr Rizvi suggested that for the benefits of the people of the region, the provincial government should take steps for direct import of items of daily use from the neighbouring China without the involvement of the departments concerned of Pakistan. He said in this regard, the local government should contact the government of China without any further delay. Taking part in the debate, another member of the house, Mirza Hussain, said that the government should abolish all types of taxes in the region and declare Gilgit-Baltistan a tax-free zone. He said due to weather conditions, the trade route with China remains open only from May 1 to December 31 every year. In order to ensure uninterrupted supply of goods from China, he added, the government of Pakistan should make arrangements in collaboration with Chinese officials to keep the route open for whole the year. He also demanded that steps should be taken to keep the Karakoram Highway open round the year so that supply of essential items from China remained uninterrupted. Mr Hussain expressed dissatisfaction over the progress of work to remove the debris and water from Attabad artificial lake and said the departments concerned should be directed to expedite the work at the site in order to lessen the sufferings of the local people. Didar Ali said that the government should consider declaring the region tax free zone in order to create more employment opportunities and bring prosperity to the region. He said if there was no ban on import of essential items from China, edibles goods should be imported from the neighbouring country to meet the demand of the local market. “Steps should be taken to collect taxes at the regional level as it is being practiced in other provinces,” he stated. In his reply, the speaker Wazir Baig said that levying of tax was the domain of the G-B Council (GBC). The issue could be discussed in a joint session of the GBLA and GBC. He added that the governor should summon a joint session of the GBLA and GBC and take up the issue for discussion. Baig maintained that the Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) has failed to submit financial reports for the past two years to the assembly. He referred the resolution to the parliamentary committee with a task to review it in accordance with the law and submit a report accordingly. Nawaz Khan Naji, a nationalist member, said the biggest threat to the country was not any external force but the corrupt rulers who are “plundering the national wealth and resources”. The lone outspoken legislator said that the rulers should pledge to curb corrupt practices. He said that the overall situation of the industrial sector is on the verge of collapse, except for the “industry of Jihad”. He urged the government to take measures to help revive the industrial sector. ]]>

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