Saturday, January 22, 2011
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly's Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (Safron) has strongly advocated levying of toll tax at the Torkham checkpost on Nato trucks, asking the relevant ministries to come up with a proposal in this context within 15 days.
Talking to The News here on Friday, the NA panel chairman Sajid Hussain Turi said the committee in its Thursday's meeting, had directed the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Law and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to furnish a report on the matter.
He maintained that not a penny was being paid to the Fata from the massive amounts being collected near Peshawar by the authorities, whereas Nato trucks and oil tankers were destroying roads in the tribal region.
"We need money for repair of roads, but no one is prepared to provide it. Therefore, we have decided to ponder over this possibility and sought the relevant ministries' output on this count," Turi said.
To a question, he said the representatives of the Fata Secretariat had declined to share details of the toll tax being collected at Hayatabad with the National Assembly's standing committee. Therefore, they had summoned the secretaries Finance, Commerce and the Foreign Office to explain the matter to them.
He contended that Fata should either be paid from the toll tax being collected at Hayatabad or toll tax be levied on Nato trucks and tankers crossing the Jamrud checkpost. He charged that at Kharlaachi checkpost, the Frontier Corps was charging from Rs 22,000 to Rs35,000 from each truck or tanker heading for Kurram Agency on their way to Afghanistan. He claimed even the local trucks, carrying food supplies and medicines for the under siege population of Kurram Agency, were being heavily charged.
He said the panel expressed concern over the lack of security on the only road leading to the Kurram Agency from Tall side and decided to summon the law-enforcement officers in the next meeting to seek an explanation why convoys of tucks, carrying vital items for the people of Kurram, were intercepted and set on fire every now and then.
"We are unfortunately faced with a Gaza-like situation for the last three years but this has not shaken those who matter and can rectify the crisis-like scenario, as hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, including children, elderly and women face an acute shortage of food and medicines," said the panel chairman.
He pointed out on January 4 this year, as many as 96 trucks headed for Kurram Agency, 23 of these meant for Taliban-infested Parachinar and adjoining areas of the agency were set ablaze along with medicines and food items while the rest were allowed to cross the Pak-Afghan border.
The legislator from Kurram Agency alleged that certain senior officers of the law-enforcement agencies with the connivance of Taliban were obstructing movement of truckloads of desperately-needed food items and medicines for Kurram Agency. "We are summoning the responsible officers in our next meeting to be held within a fortnight to ascertain why they are failing to discharge their duty," he asserted.
The legislator from Kurram Agency pointed out that a convoy of coaches, carrying a number of passengers and food supplies and medicines, was stopped by the Taliban at Tall-Parachinar Road and it had to return to Peshawar on Friday after 35 hours' ordeal.