Senate body recommends tax exemption for utility stores

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas in its meeting on Thursday recommended that the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) is a welfare organisation it must be exempted from taxes.

The committee was deliberating over the performance and challenges of USC, according to an official statement.

USC Managing Director Omar Lodhi informed the committee that the corporation was paying taxes worth Rs6 billion annually to the Federal Board of Revenue.

“The issues that weigh the organisation down are taxes and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, which compel USC to go for the lowest possible bidder,” he stated. “The trend of hiring daily wage labourers is another issue that is affecting the corporation, making it impossible to nab corruption and hoarding.”

While discussing the implementation of recommendations made in the previous meetings, committee chairman Senator Usman Khan Kakar enquired about the status of setting up mobile stores in remote areas such as Chitral, Musakhel, Sorab, Awaran, Kachi, Bolan, Mastung, Achakzai, Toba, Kakri, Qamadin, Karez.

On this, the USC managing director informed that the setting up of mobile stores at this point and time would cause a further burden on the budget, which is barely enough to pay the salaries.

He said that in the next few months, the organisation would be in a better position to begin this endeavour.

The committee encouraged the corporation to set up more stores in less-developed areas, especially in Musakhel and Sherani district.

Omar Lodhi assured the committee that the USC seeks expansion and would open up a new store in Musakhel within four months. He also informed that the criteria followed for expansion was population and distance.

The committee recommended that the FBR and PPRA be summoned in the next meeting so that more details of that USC tax may be obtained.

The committee directed the corporation that contract employees be regularised and the recruitment process pending for the last 5-6 years be completed.

It also stressed the need for a computerised system across the country so that USC records for inventory, stocks, sales, purchase of products could be maintained and checks and balances could be ensured.

The meeting was attended by Senator Kulsoom Parveen, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, Senator Gianchand and senior officers from the Ministry for Industries and Productions and Utility Stores Corporation.

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