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February 21, 2018

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Finance secretary’s absence: ‘Does PM consider him above law?’

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Syed Khursheed Shah Tuesday expressed annoyance at the absence of finance secretary from the meeting and asked if Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi considered him above the parliamentary committee.

Chairing the committee meeting, Shah directed that a letter be written to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Adviser to the PM on Finance Miftah Ismail on the senior bureaucrat’s attitude towards the parliamentary body.

The committee met to examine audit paras related to the Ministry of Defense Production for year 2016-17. The finance secretary was also asked to attend the meeting but he did not. When the chairman inquired about the finance secretary, Finance Ministry officials told him that he was in a meeting with the prime minister.

Expressing annoyance, Shah said the PAC was above the prime minister being parliamentary committee. He said the PAC came first after which came the federal cabinet. Addressing the Finance Ministry officials, he said if they knew how much expenses had occurred on the PAC meeting. He said the secretary’s attitude towards the PAC was unacceptable.

Meanwhile, auditors told the committee that a machine was purchased in 2012 for the military hospital in Rawalpindi for cure of cancer costing $2.6 million but according to record it was yet to be delivered.

The committee observed that advance technology comes every now and then while the army hospital will get an old machine. Officials of Ministry of Defense Production told the committee that the machine had been delivered and only some parts were to be supplied.

“The company with which the agreement was made has been blacklisted and we will also claim penalty from the company,” the officials told the committee. Feeling dissatisfied, the committee deferred the audit para.

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