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September 22, 2010

Military pension bill Rs72 bn, civilian Rs18 bn, PAC told

September 22, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday stopped short of urging Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to treat the military pension budget as part of the overall defence budget after Secretary Finance Salman Siddique revealed that three million retired armed forces personnel were getting Rs 72 billion annual pension under civilian head as against only Rs 18 billion for 0.5 million retired civilian employees.
The Auditor General informed the PAC that the pension bill for the retired armed forces personnel had risen from Rs 26 billion in 2001 to a staggering Rs 72 billion in 2010. MNA Khawaja Mohammad Asif tried his best to convince his fellow PAC members to recommend to the government to treat Rs 72 billion military pension budget as part of the defence budget (military pension bill was separated on orders of General Pervez Musharraf in 2001 to show decline in defence spending). But Ms Yasmin Rehman, who was presiding over the meeting in the absence of PAC Chairman Ch Nisar Ali Khan, did not agree, saying it would be appropriate to first consult Ch Nisar Ali Khan before taking a decision.
But Khawaja Asif kept on insisting that the PAC should recommend to the government that it should include the pension budget of the armed forces in the main defence budget, saying the people should know how much the military was getting in the name of defence budget.
Earlier, the PAC was informed that General Musharraf had changed the budgeting system in 2001 when military pension budget was made a part of the civilian budget. This was done to show that defence spending had declined, though actually it didn’t.
Khawaja Asif argued that the blunder committed by a military dictator should be corrected, asking: “Whom we are trying to fool by showing military pension budget as part of civilian budget.”
Khawaja Asif was the only politician who was kept in the Attock Fort by the NAB without any charges. The then chairman NAB General Amjad had even

apologised to him for wrongly keeping him in jail as not a single case of corruption could be brought against him.
However, military accountant general told the PAC that out of 3 million retired personnel of the armed forces getting pension from civilian head, more than a million were civilians. But PAC members did not agree with this logic and said they should be considered as part of the defence budget.
The PAC members also objected to Rs 250 billion being given as subsidy to the loss-making corporations. PIA’s accumulated losses had reached Rs 72 billion and only Rs 200 billion were allocated for development budget for 160 million people. The PAC members observed that a few thousand people were getting more than Rs 400 billion while only Rs 200 billion were allocated for development budget.
MNAs Hamid Hiraj and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said it was depressing to know how billions of rupees were being wasted on such organisations while millions of poor were made to suffer for lack of resources.

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