Friday, June 12, 2015

ABAD appreciates budget, desires more relief

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) has welcomed the recognition of the construction industry at the national level as their proposal was incorporated in the federal budget for the fiscal year 20015-16.
Addressing a press conference Junaid Ashraf Taloo, Chairman, Mohammad Hanif Memon, Vice Chairman, and Mohammad Hassan Bakhshi, Chairman, Southern Region, observed that for the first time the construction industry was given its due importance with the acceptance of the ABAD proposal in the federal budget. Zaigham Mahmood Rizvi, housing expert, and Saleem Kassim Patel, Convenor Budget Committee, were also present on the occasion. 
“If our proposals would have been accepted in total, it would have reduced the housing cost by 15% and increased in revenue collection of government,” they declared. Junaid Ashraf Taloo appreciated the Federal Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, for taking some positive steps for construction industry. 
“We would have witnessed phenomenal growth of the construction industry if all our proposals were accepted. Further it would have provided greater relief to common man regarding low cost houses,” the ABAD Chairman stated. 
“A few automatic re-rolling mills hold monopoly and they are selling the steel bars at a much higher rate. In the local market steel bars are being sold through cartellization at the rate of Rs.85,000 per ton,” he pointed out. 
He appealed to the government to allow import of steel bars to the ABAD members directly whose benefit will be passed on to common man. He asked the government to abolish Federal Excise Duty on sale of cement may be abolished. The ABAD had proposed that sales tax on cement be charged at ex-factory rate instead of the market rate. 
He urged the government to establish Mortgage Finance Board to boost the housing sector so that the shortage of 80 lacs houses was minimized, besides asking the authorities to abolish Provincial Services Sales Tax on builders since they were not classified as service providers. 
“The government has to provide discount in Mortgage Financing and the Markup should be decrease to 4% or 5%, it will improve the purchasing power of common man. The ban on gas connection should be lifted,” the ABAD Chairman appealed. 
The ABAD proposals also included the start of first phase of Motorway M-9 from Karachi instead of Hyderabad, allocation of funds for K-IV water project to solve the water problem of Karachi, and the fixation of markup on house finance @ 3% only.

PEC elections on June 14

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The candidate for the post of Senior Vice President (SVP) of the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC), Engr Inam Ahmed Osmani, and Engr Jamshed Rizvi, in a joint press conference, complained that the election rules were being violated and the polling stations were being set up in far flung areas of Karachi in order to devoid voters casting their votes. They demanded the polling stations to be set up in North Nazimabad, Federal B Area, PECHS and Burns Road in Karachi.
The governing body elections of the PEC are scheduled to be held on June 14 on all Pakistan basis to elect 46 members including Chairman and Senior Vice Chairman through right of franchise by 180,000 registered voters. 86,127 registered voters are in Punjab, 66,774 in Sindh, 24,751 in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa and 4,921 in Baluchistan who could cast votes to elect candidates. 
Engr Osmani and Engr Rizvi remarked that the governing body of the PEC has taken the decision to set up one polling station for 1,000 voters and one polling booth for 200 to 250 voters and the location of polling station would be set up in easy approach. 
They regretted that instead the present administration of PEC has set up ten polling stations in Karachi to deprive voters of their right of fanchise. They revealed that the PEC administration has set up three polling stations for 4% voters in District Malir, four polling stations for 10% voters in District South, only one polling station for 47% voters in District Central, just one polling station for 28% voters of District East and one polling station for 5% voters of District West, while not a single polling station was set up in District Korangi. 
They alleged that the administration had intentionally selected polling station sites at far and difficult to reach places. They said that some candidates and voters met with the members of election committee PEC and acquainted the issue but all in vain. They demanded Minister of Science and Technology and Election Committee PEC to set up polling stations at North Nazimabad, Federal B Area, Burns Road according to number of voters. 
Engr Osmani and Engr Rizvi said that the election was being held under the biometric system, which was pleasing on one hand but it may also cause delay as under the procedure one voter would consume 4 to 5 minutes for casting vote. 
They contended that under this condition approximately not more than 120 votes would be cast in ten hours and more than 80% voters would be deprived of their right to vote under the plan of administration of PEC. They said that the governing body elected in 2011 was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2014 but it unilaterally extended period by one year, which was illegal and contravening the rules of the PEC. 
They added that under the constitution of the PEC only those engineers are entitled to cast vote those were registered by June 30 of the election year but the governing body on its own changed the registration date to May 14 and decided to hold election on June 14, instead of June 30. 
They said that on the other hand less polling were set up all over Pakistan and in Lahore alone 5 polling stations are set up for 17,900 voters, two polling station in Multan for 3,100 voters, three polling stations in Peshawar for 5,238 voters, three polling stations in Islamabad for 8,790 voters and just three polling stations for 7,930 voters of Rawalpindi. They felt that the election committee PEC was striving to prevent voters from casting their votes.