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Asher Butt
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
From Print Edition
 
 

 

LAHORE: An internal audit report of 22 months of former PCB chairman has revealed lavish spending and glaring breach of powers.

 

According to the internal audit report, Ch. Zaka Ashraf, the former PCB Chairman who was sacked for the second time by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 12, has been involved in gross violation of financial probity as well as rules and procedure. On top of it, his lavish spending on himself, friends, family and his security detail cumulatively cost a financially vulnerable PCB tens of millions of rupees, revealed the audit report.

 

Going by the report, for Ch. Zaka Ashraf life as the PCB chairman was nothing less than seven star. In his 22-month split tenure he actually lived it up as if there was no tomorrow. This is not an exaggeration by any means, for an internal inquiry has revealed chapter and verse of it, giving exact figures to the last rupee, as well as comparative analysis of his spending with his predecessors to expose Zaka’s extravagance.

 

The internal inquiry carried out by the PCB’s auditors for the 22 months (from October 2011 to May 2013 and January 15 to February 10, 2014) in offices of the sacked ex-chairman Ch Zaka Ashraf is an expose on how PCB funds, amounting to hundreds of millions of rupees, were indiscriminately frittered away.

 

On top of serious financial misdemeanours, the instances of wilful misuse of power are far too many and in too many spheres, this writer could assess from only partial access to the audit report.

 

There was absolute disregard for norms and procedures in expenses on tours of chairman, his guests and family, in hiring and purchase of vehicles, in making appointments, promotions and giving pay raises, in violation of PPRA rules, and in the accounting over utilization of complimentary tickets during Pakistan’s home series in the UAE as well as tickets purchased from the BCCI on Pakistan’s tour to India 2012-13 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England, the inquiry disclosed. On his personal travels, both foreign and domestic, he lavishly spent nearly Rs 26 million.

 

A measure of the enormity of the misuse and misappropriation can be had from the fact that on the 2012-13 tour of India, tickets worth Rs 759,047 were given - to whom it is not known. And for the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, three times the same amount, nearly Rs 2.5 million was misspent, the exact figure being Rs 2,397,712. Again, there is no mention as to who were the beneficiaries of this munificence at Pakistan cricket’s expense.

 

This is on top of ‘complimentary tickets withdrawn during three international home series played at the UAE during November 2011 to May 2013’. Neither the value is mentioned in the audit report, nor the number of tickets withdrawn. The reason given: ‘No documentary evidence’. It goes without saying that in home series gate money is an important source of revenue for all cricket boards. In this case, since the three home series took place in the UAE, the receipts were in foreign currency. Yet, no record exists.

 

The report at one place notes: “An instance of noncompliance with PPRA Rules, where Toyota Prado was hired 14 times from a company named Ample Enterprises (not prequalified) for Chairman PCB at an aggregate cost of Rs 4.27 million”.

 

Fourteen rides for rupees four million! Zaka Ashraf was really tooling around in the lap of luxury - with the PCB coughing up the cash.But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.The domestic and foreign travel of chairman PCB, his guests, family and security guards cost Pakistan cricket upward of a whopping Rs 40 million, on average nearly Rs 2 million a month!

 

These disclosures, which by no means cover every aspect of financial mismanagement, are still damning indeed, raising the critical question: Was Ch. Zaka Ashraf fit to run PCB? The predictable answer is, No. Good that he was sacked by the patron in chief, the prime minister.When called, the former chairman did not attend his calls while his personal official said that he is out of Pakistan.