ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee has decided to write to Chief Justice of Pakistan after the Supreme Court did not provide the record of funds, collected for Diamer Bhasha Dam during the tenure of former CJP Saqib Nisar, to the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan.
The decision was taken after the Auditor General of Pakistan told the committee that the record of dam funds constituted by Justice (retd) Saqib Nisar had not been provided to the office of Auditor General of Pakistan.
The Public Accounts Committee met under its Chairman Noor Alam Khan, to review the audit paragraphs related to the top Ministry of Water Resources for the fiscal year 2019-20.
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan said that he should be told how much money was collected for the Bhasha Dam Fund.
“It is heard that the State Bank of Pakistan has also been asked not to give the records,” he remarked.
He said that the dam fund was people’s money; people have given from Rs10 to millions of rupees to the dam fund, and it was necessary to bring out the details of these funds for accountability, supremacy of the court and the Constitution.
“I don’t understand that people’s money is not being accounted for; the Chief Justice should direct the Principal Accounting Officer of the Supreme Court to give details of the dam funds to Auditor General,” he said.
In addition, the Public Accounts Committee has ordered a forensic audit of K-4 Karachi project, the Bhasha, Dasu, Mohmand and Neelum Jhelum hydropower projects.
While taking up the financial irregularities in mega hydropower projects, the audit officials told the committee that in 2016–17, three contracts worth Rs22.80 billion were awarded and Rs4.58 billion in advance money was released to contractors before the start of work, but even after five years of advance payment, the work could not start.
The officials of the Ministry of Water Resources told the committee that the timeline of the World Bank was followed for the release of funds.
The Public Accounts Committee expressed concern about the situation and directed the Ministry of Water Resources to investigate.
PAC member Barjees Tahir told the Ministry of Water Resources that instead of representing the World Bank, it was the ministry’s responsibility to protect the interests of people.
While reviewing another audit paragraph, the Public Accounts Committee ordered immediate dismissal of 114 retired people who had been illegally recruited for various projects, including the Dasu Hydro Power Project. According to PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan, hefty salaries in millions are paid to retired people on a contractual basis, and these are burden on the national exchequer.
The secretary of Ministry of Water Resources told the committee that 500 Chinese are working on the Dasu Dam project and a counter-terrorism expert has been placed on the Dasu Hydro Project. The committee was told that a retired brigadier was being given salary incentives of more than Rs300,000.
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan said one TV artist on the list is being paid a salary of Rs200,000, and the list also includes some serving officers who draw two salaries.
“No recommendation should be accepted; these persons should be removed from the job while necessary persons should be transferred to an appropriate place,” he said.
The PAC chairman also expressed his displeasure with the Auditor General’s Office for failing to identify the recruitment in the audit paragraph and ordered an investigation to determine responsibility. He directed immediate dismissal of the recruited individuals and said no recommendations in this regard are accepted.
The PAC chairman asked the Ministry of Water Resources for joint secretaries and GMs to be appointed in their place as retired people are also drawing salaries and pensions. “These people should also be removed from government housing,” he said.
In the meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee has also taken notice of complaints against the staff of the department of the Auditor General of Pakistan for verification of audit paras and directed the Auditor General of Pakistan to take action on them.
Noor Alam Khan said that he had received complaints from ministries and divisions that auditors seek favours. “No one is above the law; we will take action,” he remarked.
He directed the PAC Secretariat to write to all the secretaries of ministries who have sought favours for the audit paragraphs. “I brought this issue before the Auditor General of Pakistan,” he said.
The Public Accounts Committee directed the Auditor General to send an officer of 20 or 21 Grade for the audit.
PAC member Sheikh Rohail Asghar said if audit people are involved in such activities, then it’s all over. “The auditors should also be held accountable,” he said.