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July 12, 2020

Pakistan and corruption can’t walk together: All being watched closely by PM Imran Khan, says Shibli Faraz

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July 12, 2020

Pakistan and corruption can’t walk together: All being watched closely by PM Imran Khan, says Shibli Faraz

ISLAMABAD: The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Senator Shibli Faraz on Saturday said Prime Minister Imran Khan is keeping a close watch on everyone, and no one involved in corruption will be spared.

Speaking here at news conference along with Chairman Prime Minister's Inspection Team Ahmad Yar Hiraj, Shibli Faraz said that Pakistan and corruption cannot go together. Shibli Faraz contended that opposition parties had diverse agendas and could not forge unity, but they all were opposed to completion of prime minister’s reform agenda, as they feared, if it was completed they all would land in jail.

The minister said the links of the PPP with criminals have been established. He said the stories of sacked judge Arshad Malik show that the PML-N used every tactic to pressurise him. He said there is no gang or mafia in the PTI, as the PTI is representative of Pakistan, while the opposition represent corruption. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan is not one to yield to any sort of pressure (from his political opponents). The minister said that there is "no chance" the opposition parties will come back to power. "The opposition has become so notorious that there really isn't any chance of them ever coming back," he said, adding that the opposition has gathered over the fear of being caught. "The Tehreek-e-Insaf government will not let them off the hook," he said, adding that strict action will be taken if evidence of corruption was found against anyone. The information minister said that the government has prioritised institutional reforms in line with PTI's manifesto. "Unfortunately, the (state) institutions were deliberately paralysed," he remarked.

He said that in the tenures of past governments, an item costing Rs100 otherwise was purchased at Rs150 and payment to vendors and suppliers was delayed. Faraz said the government purchases are looked after by the office of the Accountant General Pakistan Revenue (AGPR). "Over Rs4 trillion in excess was paid in the past 10 years for government procurement," he said.

He said that the past governments "were themselves engaged in corruption" so they never did anything to root it out. The minister said that no government can bring about reforms in 20 months of governance, but transparency and stability of institutions remains the PTI government's top priority.

Speaking on the occasion, Ahmad Yar Hiraj said that the government was paying the cost of corrupt practices committed by the employees of the AGPR and other entities. Hiraj said his commission had recommended standard operating procedures (SOPs), matching the prime minister's vision of a digital Pakistan. He explained that a system update was proposed so that the amount of the cheques to be issued to various institutions should directly go to the accounts like the salaries of the employees with no chance of corruption. He said the AGPR should issue a list containing details of the requirements for clearance of bills on its website, so that no objection could be raised to delay the payments. He said it was unfortunate that the malpractices rampant in AGPR have now spread to other institutions as well.

He said it was noticed by his commission that the government purchases were costing more than the similar procurements done by the private sector. He explained this was called ‘speed money’ or corruption as no bill was cleared from AGPR easily and objections were simply raised to get gratification. Hiraj noted as the vendors bribe the AGPR staff, they show an increase in prices of purchased items to adjust the amount, which proves an additional burden on national exchequer.

The FIA had also been directed to take action against the employees of AGPR involved in malpractices after evaluating the details of their assets, he said, and added that when he took charge, he realised that performance of almost all institutions was marred by malpractices. He said the previous governments remained silent over rampant malpractices and credit of taking this initiative to do away with them goes to the PTI government.

He said that under the reforms agenda of the government, the Inspection Commission has completed 24 inspections during 18 months and their reports were sent to the prime minister and actions are being taken against those involved in corruption and embezzlement.

Previously, he pointed out that AGPR postings in Grade 21 and 22 officers were being made without the approval of the PM, which was also against the rules and would be stopped forthwith. He said that during past 10 years, the national exchequer lost Rs4 trillion due to malpractices in AGPR which could have been saved if the then governments had taken action.