» Monday, August 21, 2006

Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister updates

When asked if the Prime Minister was on his way back from his holiday the PMS said that after years of asking the same questions about the Prime Minister’s holiday, they should know that advance notice of the Prime Minister’s travel plans was not given and this year was no different. Asked if the Prime Minister would be back at work in Downing Street this week the PMS said he will be back from his holiday when he is back and that they would be notified when that time comes.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Search for related news


  1. issue
    Breach of trust?

    The Evacuee Trust Property Board hassuddenly increased the rents of its property by 500 to 2000 per cent,sending a shock wave through its tenants

    By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

    Thousands of people occupying the trust properties under the management control of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) have been having sleepless nights for the last couple of weeks. They are worried as the ETPB has decided in principle to reassess the commercial and residential buildings under its control and revise their monthly rents in accordance with the existing market prices.

    The ETPB issued notices to its tenants in March that they would have to pay rents revised under Section 10 of the Scheme for the Management & Disposal of Urban Evacuee Trust Properties 1977 (amended in February 2006). These tenants have also been advised to appear personally or through a lawyer at the concerned ETPB office and file written objections, if any. Otherwise, it will be assumed that these tenants are ready to pay the proposed rent and the same will be recovered from them, the notice adds. The new rents and leases would be effective from July 1, 2006.

    The ETPB says its tenants are paying nominal rent, much lower than what others in the same vicinity are paying. The board says it has taken the decision to increase the revenue collected by it and spend it on charitable organisations managed by it.

    The tenants affected directly by the decision say it is violative of the Rent Restriction Control Act of 1959 that allows 10 per cent increase every year. They allege that the proposed rent in many cases is around Rs 500 to 2000 per cent more than the one being paid right now. To substantiate their claims they cite a few examples where rents have been raised exorbitantly.

    For example, the rent of a tenant — Raja Aamer — has been increased from Rs 2,355.50 per month to Rs 45,640 per month and that of another — Aftab Maqsood — from Rs 1,479.50 to Rs 42,100 per month. The monthly rent of a tyre shop in Sir Ganga Ram Trust building has been increased from Rs 15,929 per month to Rs 2,32,100 per month, that of Singer in the same building from Rs 22,688.50 to Rs 2,25,000 per month and of Gestetner from Rs 9,905.50 per month to Rs 80,300 per month.

    Notices have been issued to tenants all over the country. In Lahore, they have been issued to occupants of residential and commercial properties in areas like Chuna Mandi, Kasera Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Bansaanwala Bazaar, Naulakha, Sheranwala Gate, Mochi Gate, The Mall and others.

    Sheikh Saleem Ali, a tenant in Dyal Singh Mansion, tells The News on Sunday it is not for the first time that the ETPB has decided to take such action. "Every new chairman thinks that we are cheating the board and tries to convert the board into a goldmine. But they soon realise that doing business on the Mall Road is not so easy. There are no parking spaces and you are exposed to vandalism. Besides, the board neither spends on the repair of the building nor does it easily allow the tenants to get the repairs done from their own pocket," he says.

    Sheikh Saleem goes on to say the ETPB is basing its assessment on a recent auction. "An office space in Dyal Singh Mansion that was fetching Rs 19,000 per month to the board has been auctioned for Rs 79,000 per month. The new tenant has divided the space into smaller units, rather kiosks, and has rented it out to multiple tenants who are collectively paying the rent. This way higher rent can be collected but at the cost of harming the beauty and grandeur of the building," he adds.

    Dr. Hameed Ahmed Ayaz, counsel for the tenants, says the enhancement of the monthly rent only according to the location of the property does not bring it at par with other properties. "Other things that need to be considered are the material used in construction, the life of the building (as to when it was constructed), the type of construction and the facilities provided, the existing rate of rent and many other ancillary factors." For example, he says the Ganga Ram Trust building was constructed 70 years ago with clay and pucca bricks with roofing made of wooden rafters. Thus, this building cannot be equated with the newly constructed buildings (with all the modern fittings/fixtures/facilities), he says. In this situation, the manifold increase in the current rent is neither reasonable nor lawful and is bound to be recalled, he tell TNS.

    ETPB vice chairman Pirzada Riffat Nawaz tells TNS "it is a wrong perception that we are trying to cause harm to anybody". He says the philosophy behind the raise in the rents in accordance with the current market rates is simple: the ETPB wants to to increase revenue. "This revenue will not go into our pockets," Pirzada says. "It will be spent on the welfare of the poor and the needy. This money will go to Janki Devi Hospital, Gulab Devi Hospital and many other charitable organisations."

    The vice chairman says the decision has been taken by the federal government and the ETPB that has its members some leading businessmen of the country. "The new assessments have been made after surveys of existing rents of similar properties in different areas. And our assessments are not final. If anyone has an objection, he can appeal against it," he says.

    Chaudhry Fawad Ahmed, a lawyer, a tenant and secretary of Ganga Ram Trust Building Tenants Association, however questions the logic of raising an issue "that has already been decided by a superior court." He says a similar action taken in 2002 had given rise to multiple litigations between the board and the tenants and the Lahore High Court gave a verdict that is still relevant.

    "We have replied to the notices issued by the ETPB," Fawad tells TNS. "But if the board insists on charging the proposed rents we will take it to court and file a contempt case against it." He says that in the LHC verdict, the exorbitant increase in rents had been declared ultra vires the constitution and the existing statutes determining the rights of the tenants/citizens. The LHC had also declared the bills issued for payment of enhanced rent to be without lawful authority and of no legal effect, he adds.

    Fawad also quotes two extracts from the judgement given by Justice Saeed Akhtar, of the LHC, at that time. The extracts follow:

    i) "The objections or proposals were not invited by the Board or the Federal Government from the tenants and they were not associated in the preparation of the formula. The process of decision making by public functionaries should exhibit transparency."

    ii) "It is an admitted fact that the Board does not spend even a single penny on the maintenance of the properties nor the expenditure made on the maintenance of the properties is adjusted towards the rent. To me, the enhancement of rate at this exorbitant rate is so outrageous that no prudent man who has applied his mind to question, could have arrived to it."

    The ETPB chairman Lt Gen (retd) Zulfiqar Ali tells TNS the board’s decision does not clash with the ruling of the court. "In fact, we have rehashed the whole scheme and got it approved from the federal government after due deliberations," he says.

    The chairman goes on to say the board is ready to entertain all genuine complaints. "If someone wants to file an appeal, he can approach four different appellate authorities one by one. If the appeal is rejected by the deputy administrator, he can approach the administrator and after that the chairman and the federal government Such a system hardly exists in any other department," he adds.

    He says the ETPB is doing all it can to help the deserving and plans to give maximum relief to the widows and orphans.

    On the other hand, he says, those earning in millions shall be made to pay reasonable rents for the properties they occupy. "The ETPB was able to auction an office space, occupied previously by Pak Arab Fertilizer Corporation, for a monthly rent around Rs 4,50,000. The previous occupant was paying Rs 19,000 per month. Similarly, the owners of Fazal Din Chemists and Druggists are paying a paltry rent, around Rs 20,000 per month. For a prime location such as this, are these rents justified?" he asks.

    Comment by David — 27 Sep 2006 on 12:46 pm | Link
  2. DAWN


    October 13, 2006 Friday Ramazan 19, 1427

    Letters to the Editor

    Plea for ownership right

    A COMMUNITY of laundrymen and people, we migrated from India to live in Muslim homeland of Pakistan in 1947 and settled in Saray Ratan Chand, Chowk Shah Alam Gate in the Bansanwala Bazaar, Lahore.

    The houses that we took up for living here were taken over by the Evacuee Trust Property Board whose office at 9 Court Street, Lahore, received rent from us. These houses were in a dilapidated condition and the Saray Ratan Chand area itself was also unliveable due to lack of drainage facilities.

    In the last 59 years, we have repaired these houses with our meagre incomes and also spent money on the improvement of the area itself.

    We request the government of Pakistan to grant us the right of ownership of our houses as it has done to several kutchi abadis of Lahore.
    S. QALB-I-ABBAS & OTHER RESIDENTS Lahore http://www.dawn.com/2006/10/13/letted.htm
    The Nation
    The Nation on Web
    Wednesday, June 28, 2006
    Poor laundrymen

    A community of laundrymen and people, we had migrated from India to live in Muslim homeland of Pakistan in 1947 and had settled in Saraay Ratan Chand, Chowk Shah Alam Gate in the Bansanwala Bazar, Lahore. The houses that we took up for living here were taken over by the Evacuee Trust Property Board whose office at 9-Court Street received rent from us. These houses were in dilapidated condition and the Saraay Rattan Chand area itself was also unlivable due to lack of drainage facilities. In the last 59 years, we have repaired these houses with our meager incomes and also spent money on the improvement of the area itself.
    We request the government of Pakistan to grant us the right of ownership of our houses as it has done to several kacchi-abadies of Lahore. -INHABITANTS of Saray Ratan Chand, Dohbi Ahatha, Bansanwala Bazzar, Lahore, June 27.

    Comment by Syed Qalb-i-Abbas — 7 Mar 2007 on 6:00 pm | Link
  3. has the liberal dem lost there way my mother passed away in december 2006 yet the lib dem have sent her a letter about a postal vote if the fools had done there homework they would found that she had been doing a postal vote for several years and she was dead is that the problem with that most are dead from the neck up are there any laws to protect dead people from this intrusion
    i found the letter very distressing and up setting

    yours sincerely

    colin d jury

    Comment by colin jury — 19 Mar 2007 on 7:44 pm | Link

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