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Senate body for early return of IDPs to their lands

ISLAMABAD:The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) has stressed the need for an amicable and urgent solution to the return and rehabilitation issues faced by internally displaced persons (IDPs) from District Khyber and and other areas.

Meeting of the Committee was held here Monday while its chairman Senator Taj Mohammad Afridi, presided over.

The Committee was informed that FDMA was doing its best to ensure that all IDPs including registered and unregistered persons have access to basic amenities on humanitarian grounds. The Unregistered IDPs must fill out a Return Facilitation Form, which is forwarded by their Political Agent or DC. It is believed that only1700 IDPs have been registered, whereas the rest which entails a huge figure that surpasses this number greatly.

The Committee was told that it was imperative that the return and rehabilitation process be streamlined; however, opening the registrations for all at this critical juncture will affect sustainability.

Secretary Ministry of States and Frontier Regions was of the view that if registrations are reopened it will undo floodgates that will be impossible to contain.

Discussing the bidding process for by the Civil and Works Department, the Committee was informed that any change in the terminology of the addendum for the procurement of solid waste vehicles and machinery would create legal issues and invite stringent scrutiny by law enforcement agencies. It was revealed that enormous laxity has been already been given while remaining within the rules.

Secretary Local Government and Rural Development Merged Area was of the view that despite believing in ease of doing business, the organization cannot compromise on rules or quality. Chairman Committee, Senator Taj Mohammad Afridi said that it was imperative Pakistanis be given a fair chance to compete, so that local business is facilitated.

While discussing revenue divisions, the Committee was informed by Chairman FBR, Mr. Jehanzeb Khan that the pre-merger status of FATA will be maintained via blanket exemption of Income Tax, Sales Tax and Withholding Tax from the period of the date of assent given by the President to the aid conditional agreement till the 30th June, 2023 so as to restore the position as existed prior to the passage of the 25th Constitutional Amendment, 2018. Presently there is a blanket exemption of sales tax on supplies to the area erstwhile FATA/PATA upto 30 June, 2023. This however, has created great unrest in industries in the country as there is a huge gap between prices in products manufactures in FATA/PATA and the rest of the country

Senator Hilallal Ur Rehman raised the issue of the future of employees of FATA Secretariat. He said that these individuals have dedicated their lives to the Secretariat and it was imperative that measures be taken to protect them. He recommended that Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa be summoned in the next meeting for more details on this issue.

The meeting was attended amongst others by Haji Momin Khan Afridi, Hidayat Ullah, Hillal Ur Rehman, Najma Hameed and senior officers from the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions alongwith all concerned. Officers from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were present at the meeting as well.