Tuesday October 19, 2021

Under contentious policy: 400 bureaucrats get extra plots worth Rs25 bn in capital

August 21, 2021
Under contentious policy: 400 bureaucrats get extra plots worth Rs25 bn in capital

ISLAMABAD: Nearly 400 top civil servants got an extra prime government plot each, collectively worth Rs25 billion in the heart of the federal capital in the past 15 years.

These extra plush plots were allotted to some senior civil servants (BS-22) under a ‘Contentious’ policy, approved by the previous governments, according to official details exclusively obtained by this correspondent on Friday.

The market value of these plots, measuring 500 square yards each, was around Rs25 billion, while these officers including judges, federal secretaries, director generals, heads of different autonomous bodies, senior civil servants, only paid Rs1.6 billion collectively to acquire the extra government plots.

Out of those civil servants, of whom almost 80% had already been superannuated, had received an additional piece of land (1 kanal) each under the 'contentious' scheme, which had been either suspended, stopped or scrapped from time to time in previous regimes of Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) since 2006.

“In view of the current government’s policy of introducing incentives for senior civil servants, the government should review its policy of providing an additional plot to officers of BS-22,” wrote Younis Dhaga, the then secretary in-charge for Housing and Works, in a special summary, sent to then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on July 10, 2014.

But the then PM, in May 2015, revived policy for one extra plot for BS-22 officers, suspending his own directions to stop that perquisite, official record showed.

Close to three dozen senior most civil servants, many of them retired now, collectively got more than four plots each from the Police Foundation, Capital Development Authority and the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) during that period, revealed the record.

More than 34 officers (BS-22), all of them retired, could not get this extra one-kanal plot under that scheme and some of them went to the court, challenging true spirit of the scheme which was questioned by the federal cabinet in 2014 and then by Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Supreme Court's judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa last year.

Those most expensive extra plots were given to civil servants in sectors E-7, E-11, G-11, D-12, F-14, F-15 and other sectors of Islamabad, showed the official record. The Public Accounts Committee, a highest accountability forum of the elected representatives, has termed it a controversial policy and recommended abolition of the allocation of plots to judges, generals, bureaucrats, journalists and others at throwaway prices.

Over 40 superior courts judges, including four former chief justices, five DGs of FIA, six principal secretaries, 17 chief secretaries of provinces, 16 interior secretaries, 11 establishment secretaries, 18 cabinet secretaries, 10 chairmen of FBR, 17 inspectors general of police, 11 CDA chairmen, four Supreme Court registrars, seven secretaries to the president and many other secretaries got one extra plot each in Islamabad during that period. Wives of around a dozen senior civil servants (BS-22), who were also senior officers, got one extra plot each in these sectors during that period accordingly.

In the latest bid (allotment occurred recently), more than two dozen secretaries got one extra choice piece of land in sector F-14 and F-15 by paying a nominal price of Rs5 million to Rs7 million each for those plots which have a market value of between Rs40 million to Rs60 million each, depending upon their location.

Official documents revealed that the law ministry, in its findings, termed allotment of plots to government officials and others illegal in 2013. In its summary to the FGEHF, the ministry recommended that the practice of blue-eyed officers must be banished and buried forever.

The difference between the market value of the plot and the concessional value determined for allotment is a taxable perquisite but none of the civil servants offered that value for taxing. So that apparently unlawfully becomes a tax-free prerequisite due to FBR’s failure to enforce tax laws upon the bureaucrats, a senior tax official said.