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September 2, 2018
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PM Office seeks information about big official houses

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September 2, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The process of collecting detailed information about the official accommodations being used by senior divisional and district administration officials in the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) has been launched to put the expansive properties to public auction or use them for some profitable purpose.

The Prime Minister’s Office has sought details, according to a letter dated August 24, 2018, signed by deputy secretary Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada, a copy of which is available with The News. “The objective is to have optimal use of these accommodations,” Iftikhar Durrani, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Media, told The News when contacted. “A decision to auction them is yet to be taken.” These residences include the houses used by the commissioners, deputy commissioners (DCs), district police officers (DPOs) and deputy inspectors general of police (DIGs). The details of the circuit houses, rest houses, guest houses, Dak bungalows, camp offices and any other such facility have also been sought. The letter said that pursuant to the federal cabinet decision dated August 20, 2018, the provision of information in respect of all departments, attached departments, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies and organisations, divisional and district administration, including the police, is requested. However, the letter did not mention Sindh, ruled by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Balochistan being governed by a multiparty coalition led by the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) of which the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is a partner.

A format was also sent along with the letter to the Punjab and KP chief secretaries and the ICT chief commissioner to be filled by them. The letter directed that a focal person may be nominated for follow-up and correspondence. It was reiterated that the issue shall be considered on priority basis as most important and time bound activity. The letter further said the requisite information may be submitted through email, fax or special messenger, for the perusal of the competent authority on or before August 30 along with a certificate duly signed by the relevant chief secretary, chief commissioner.

Reacting to this communication, Punjab’s Services and General Administration Department wrote a letter on August 31 to the senior member of the Board of Revenue, all the administrative secretaries, the Inspector General of Police, all the commissioners and DCs to provide the required information.

The letter signed by a section officer directed the information to be furnished on the prescribed format along with the certificate duly signed by September 2 (within two days) through hard copy or email. The information required in the format include department, name of facility, city, location (urban/rural), current use, total area, number of rooms of accommodation, allied facilities, condition, number of employees, annual expenditure and return, income.

The chief secretaries of Punjab and the KP and the ICT chief commissioner as the case may be, certify the information about these accommodations and other properties, is correct and complete. He may also certify that no such facility is owned, controlled or managed by any department, attached department, and autonomous or semi-autonomous body, organisation under their administrative control. It is widely known that the residences of some commissioners, DCs and police officers deputed in districts are very large and spread over dozens of kanals, which is considered a waste of public money. However, after the auction of these properties the residences for these officials will have to be built.

Durrani said these large accommodations are a “dead load”, which would be put to some beneficial use. He said all the data would be passed on to a committee on austerity headed by Dr Ishrat Hussain, which will decide how to profitably use them. He said another committee, headed by Federal Minister Shafqat Mehmood, would propose the use of the governors’ and chief ministers’ houses, similarly spread over huge areas.

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