Saturday October 16, 2021

Inquiry Commission on Debt: ‘Ministers, bureaucrats found involved in suspicious transactions’

August 26, 2021
Inquiry Commission on Debt: ‘Ministers, bureaucrats found involved in suspicious transactions’

ISLAMABAD: The Inquiry Commission on Debt (ICOD) presented over a dozen reports on the ballooning debt of Rs30,846 billion, misuse of funds in hundreds of public, private projects, to the Prime Minister Imran Khan in the past two years involving 200 key serving and retired civil servants, MPs and even cabinet ministers of PPP, PMLN and the ruling PTI through suspicious transactions.

Officials associated with the commission confided to this correspondent on Wednesday that around two dozen institutions/ministries/departments, through ICOD, made in-direct recoveries of over Rs350 billion so far. They were made possible through firms, departments, ministries and other regulators associated with the recovery or reimbursement of institutional support and as direct cost of project budgets, revealed a senior official.

The Geo News held off record interviews with at least six key officials who directly or indirectly worked with ICOD to understand its proceedings since June 2019. The ICOD had referred 56 key cases of alleged corruption to NAB, FIA, FBR and provincial ACDs during this period, revealed another official seeking anonymity.

The prime minister presided over 16 meetings where he was briefed about ICOD's recommendations on over 50 mega projects, sugar scandal, wheat and flour crisis and many other ongoing corruption inquiries started by this government, revealed another official. The ICOD gave its recommendations on Lowari/Kohat Tunnels, Billion Trees Tsunami project, Multan Metro and Orange Train projects, added the official.

The commission sent its recommendations on Lahore Metro and Multan Metro projects to NAB Lahore, suggesting a fresh probe, according to officials. "The commission is working vigorously and we submitted the findings/recommendations to prime minister directly. He is happy with the commission's work and the ongoing progress," NAB's Deputy Chairman and head of ICOD, Hussain Asghar, told this correspondent. But Asghar did not comment when asked about "commission's specific findings and recommendations."

The officials further told the Geo News that prime minister himself was overseeing progress into the involvement of officials in “misuse” of public funds particularly those linked to foreign loans from 2008-2018. The ICOD also identified over 200 key individuals and 23 entities allegedly involved in suspicious transactions of Rs450 billion through 220 private accounts in over 150 public, private projects. Those included some key individuals and even cabinet ministers of PPP, PMLN and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf besides some serving and retired civil servants, added the officials.

Another report, according to officials, discussed in detail all personal and private expenditures permitted under the law and amounts expended with and without authorisation.

The commission sought help of some 175 private and government officials after Aug 8, 2019, associated with the AGP, Federal Board of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency, Assets Recovery Unit, State Bank of Pakistan, ministries of planning and development, finance, commerce and industries, water and power, and all provincial governments, revealed senior officials.

It also looked into the reasons for surging public debt and liabilities, which ballooned from Rs6,690 billion in 2008 to Rs30,846 billion till September 2018. An estimated total number of foreign loans as part of the public debt stood at 413 in the last 10 years with USD inflows of US$70.693 billion while outflows of USD 44.914 billion, added the officials.

It received details of over 1,020 public sector projects from 2008 to 2018, saying it evaluated some 100 key projects being funded by World Bank, International Monitoring Funds, Asian Development Bank Funds or any other country. Furthermore, the ICOD uncovered details of 25 projects of petroleum and natural resources, 85 projects of communication, including Lowari Tunnel and its access roads, rehabilitation of Larkana-Naudero Lakhi, GT Road and construction of bridge over Indus River, the officials said.

The dualisation of Sakrand-Benazirabad, extension of motorway from Shamkot to Multan (southern Punjab), Faisalabad-Khanewal Expressway, National Highway and bridge over Indus River at Larkana also came under the investigation. Similarly, the record of 56 projects of Ports and Shipping and railways divisions, 285 projects of HEC, 78 projects of health, 203 projects of information/science technology, 186 projects of Interior Division, 45 projects of Population and Women development projects and record of 113 projects of Cabinet Division, Climate Change Division and Communications Division were scrutinised.