The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa may be on the road to automation, but not before it irons out some chinks in existing computerisation projects.
One such current project on the verge of collapse is related to the computerisation of property tax records and is run by the K-P Excise and Taxation Department.
The project was launched in November 2005 with the Science and Technology and Information Technology (ST&IT) department as the financier, while the E&T department was the executor and operator.
The ST&IT recruited computer experts for the project to create a database for records across K-P.
No one on the other end
Officials dealing with the matter said the project was not extended due to the lack of government interest. As a result, it holds no operational funds or money to pay salaries, much to the dismay of employees.
The project staff and E&T officials blame the Planning and Development (P&D) for not granting an extension, while the latter claims the former is delaying PC-1 for the project.
Project manager Arsalan Ahmed Khan told The Express Tribune, “I have to convince my staff on a daily basis issues are going to get resolved and salaries will get paid.” He added they have to borrow printer pages from other departments.
“We are at a stage in life where you can’t ask your parents for money and most of my colleagues have children,” Asghar Ali, a deputy project manager explained.
Khan and Ali said some of their staff members had been associated with the project for the past 10 years. They urged the govern-
ment to either regularise them or appoint them as ad hoc employees.
“They are all highly educated and trained in their fields and now they can’t get jobs in other departments because they have crossed the age limit,” Ali said.
Three more years
He added the officials want the P&D department to extend the project for three and a half years. The period would allow them to not only complete the first project, but others too, or so they claimed.
“We will computerise tax, the E&T record room, and form-1 for confiscated vehicles in the extended period,” Khan said. He said the geographical information system (GIS) module for the department would enable it to find new construction in the province and thus increase its tax net.
“Since 2005, we have earned Rs2.7 billion in revenue for the department, while the project cost only Rs129.89 million,” he claimed. “We have brought everything to their fingertips. Calculations which used to take weeks are now a click away because of the hard work of the staff.”
Ali said that since 2005, they have put in 16 million entries into the database and now an inspector of the E&T department has access to a computerized challan with details of the property taxpayer in seconds. A computerised challan is mandatory to submit property tax in the State Bank of Pakistan.
“The State Bank of Pakistan does not accept a handwritten challan so if the project is not extended, the E&T would lose revenue generated from property tax collections,” said Khan, He complained salaries were secondary to the blood and sweat poured into a project which could take years to rebuild.
When asked about the issue, P&D Rural Development chief Muhammad Islam said the project PC-1 had been approved twice by the department and extended until June 2015 through the ADP.
“We can’t approve a project’s PC-1 more than two times legally. They have to take the CM’s permission for the PC-1 approval and also okay it in the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) meeting,” said Islam.
He said the project had been running for 10 years and the E&T department should either regularise staff or stop the project.
The project, if extended for another three and a half years under the Annual Development Programme, would have an estimated cost of Rs189 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2015.