Public-private partnership must be reactivated to improve city: Wahab

Karachi

Karachi: Administrator Karachi, Sindh government’s Spokesman and CM Advisor on Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab on Thursday said that public-private partnership must be reactivated to improve the city.

“It’s time to utilise powers and move on. Everyone has its own point of view but we have to own our city. I am working for the betterment of Karachi and will continue to do so, the Administrator expressed these views on at the KMC head office while addressing Open Forum “Karachi Shehar Kese Kam Karta Hai” “How does Karachi city work” under CLICK.

Metropolitan Commissioner Syed Afzal Zaidi was also present on the occasion. The open forum was attended by a large number of students from different colleges and universities of Karachi, prominent citizens and representatives of civil society.

The Administrator Karachi said that he always said that he cannot solve the problems of 40 years in four months, adding that will not go for political blame game. “Citizens should cooperate with the KMC. Karachi has been badly branded in the past even though the city is not so bad,” he added.

He said that when the time came for new delimitations in 2021, the Local Government Act was reformed and for this purpose all political parties and stakeholders were consulted. Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that in the new system, local bodies had been given full powers to solve the problems of the citizens and improve their standard of living.

“Once the funds are collected, the people will be able to ask the elected representatives where the money was spent. In the past, there were frequent decry of lack of power which became a common impression. We as citizens have to decide whether we want to run the institutions on a sustainable basis or not,” he said and added that no house or institution can function without adequate revenue.

The Administrator Karachi said that water scarcity is a major problem in the country and local, provincial and federal governments have to work together to solve it. He said that the provincial government is assisting KMC in setting up a desalination plant in Karachi.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that due to commercialization of 40 roads in Karachi, high rise buildings were constructed in narrow spaces and ultimately the citizens suffered as the existing infrastructure was severely affected. He said that if the situation was to be rectified, the municipal tax system would have to be run in the style of other major cities of the world.

“The KMC used to collect only Rs. 210 million annually and out of this Rs. 450 million was given to the tax collecting company. We decided to levy a local body tax of Rs. 200 per household on electricity bills like PTV license but it was severely criticized and it was said that the burden is being placed on the citizens, although this is not the case,” the Administrator said.

He said that in the new system, it has been decided to collect property tax through local bodies. Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that in a city like Mumbai, Rs 53 billion is collected from property tax while in Karachi only Rs 1.6 billion is collected. The provincial government has made this decision with an open mind and has also agreed to meet the shortfall of the first year.

He said that education and health are not municipal but provincial functions so it had been decided that the provincial government would take care of these matters.

The Administrator said that the performance of the provincial government is better than that of KMC when compared to medical institutions. The collection of municipal and property taxes is of paramount importance. “I, like others, could had borrowed from the provincial government, but that is not the solution. All information related to KMC’s assets is posted on the website in a transparent manner,” he added.

Metropolitan Commissioner Syed Afzal Zaidi also addressed the open forum. He said the British established four major coastal cities in past and Karachi was the topmost city. Charles Napier begun development here and in 1854 the city population was only six thousand. Karachi was the biggest wheat exporter during First World War.

Earlier the city was run by selected people however afterwards election process started in 1933. In 1912 KMC income was 17 Lac and expenditure was 16 Lac, in 1901 the city population raised to 86 thousand and now it reached upto 2.5 crore. The citizens have to decide on whether they want a developed city or not and they should join hands with government in cleanliness works and for this they would have to take part in the journey of progress and own their city.

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