ISLAMABAD: The Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) was told on Wednesday that the rate of zakat has remain unchanged since 1990.
It was told that the amount of zakat fixed at the time has remained unchanged despite manifold rise in inflation. Also, Islamabad – the city of bureaucrats and government employees – eats up the major chunk of 35 percent of zakat allocated in federal quota, which irked the lawmaker during a meeting of the standing committee. The federal quota of zakat comes to seven percent of the total across the country. The Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), chaired by Senator Baz Mohammad Khan was briefed about the allocation of zakat in federal quota. It showed surprise over the fact that major chunk of 35 percent from this head goes to Islamabad, while GB receives 18 percent only.
It was noted that GB has more population than Islamabad and receives half of the zakat amount compared to the federal capital, which is home mostly to the salaried class. The allocation of zakat for the Federal Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) is ahough higher than Islamabad at 46 percent; but if compared proportionally in terms of population to Islamabad, it also looks smaller.
Members of the committee showing their annoyance on this distribution formula for zakat from federal quota believed the more should have been gone to areas having poor population compared to the federal city where salaried class mostly comprises the population besides the affluent ones. Additional Secretary Kashmir Affairs & GB Ministry told the committee that 18th constitutional amendment devolved zakat and ushar affairs to provinces with federal government only dealing the distribution of zakat in FATA, GB and Islamabad.
The committee members also took strong exception to the figures of Guzara Allowance given to the poor, who receive Rs 3000 for six months. “This is ridiculing the poor lot by giving them Rs 3000 on this account for six months,” Senator Rubina Khalid remarked and suggested that either it should be enhanced or abolished forthwith to save the poor from this “humiliation”. An additional secretary informed the committee that the poor are provided Rs 10,000 in the name of Dowry Allowance, which also shocked the legislators who said it too was little to help anyone in present times of high inflation.
Earlier, the committee was told that there is capacity to generate 27,000MW electricity on the River Indus and 49,000MW can be generated in Gilgit-Baltistan alone. Studies showe that 25,000MW electricity can be produced in Azad Jammu and Kashmir alone.
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