ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee has recommended to the government for a reduction in prices of petroleum products, saying oil prices have dropped twice in the global market. He said the petroleum prices have dropped twice but the government has increased the prices instead of reducing them. Now the Finance Ministry should provide relief in the wake of reduction in international petroleum prices, he said.
The Pubic Accounts Committee’s meeting was chaired on Wednesday by Chairman Noor Alam Khan in which the audit paras related to the Finance Ministry for the year 2019-20 were to be examined but could not be taken up due to the absence of the Special Secretary Finance and was adjourned. The chairman expressed strong annoyance over the absence of the Special Secretary Finance Ministry from the meeting. The Additional Secretary Finance informed the meeting that the special secretary was in a meeting with the prime minister. At this, Noor Alam remarked that whatever the Ministry of Finance was doing with this country and the people, we will not allow that to happen with this committee.
Besides the absence of Special Secretary Finance, Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan also expressed annoyance and displeasure over the absence of acting Governor State Bank of Pakistan. He issued a notice to Special Secretary Finance and Governor State Bank of Pakistan over their absence from the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.
Deputy Governor SBP told the committee that the acting governor SBP was in Karachi due to the monetary policy panel meeting. The chairman PAC said the committee will not allow anyone except the designated head and he must attend the committee. He said the DG FIA should also be called tomorrow and the expenses of PAC’s meeting be deducted from the salaries of the Special Secretary Finance and SBP governor.
Supporting the decision, PAC member Nisar Ahmed Cheema said the principle should be to deduct the expenses of the meeting from the salary of absent officers. "Leave it this time, it should be enforced from the next meeting," Cheema remarked.
The chairman PAC inquired from the deputy governor SBP about his salary, to which he replied it was Rs2.5 million. Asked about the car, he replied that he had a Honda Civic.
The PAC also summoned details of the salaries, perks and privileges of the acting Governor State Bank of Pakistan and the board of directors of the SBP. Nisar Cheema remarked that the salary of the acting governor SBP was equivalent to 15 Members of the National Assembly.
Talking about the prices of petroleum products, Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said the price of petrol had reduced in the global market. “When the price is low in the world market, why is it not low in our country?” he asked adding when the price is higher in the world markets, the domestic prices go up but do not come down when it happens internationally.
PMLN’s Sheikh Rohail Asghar remarked that global oil prices have come down by Rs50 per litre. While recommending the government to reduce the petroleum prices, Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan remarked that the Ministry of Finance, Petroleum Division and the government are being asked to provide relief to the people.
During the meeting, the issue of alleged corruption of over Rs200 billion in the government-owned bank also echoed when Sheikh Rohail Asghar raised the issue and said Transparency International had identified over Rs200 billion irregularities in two reports. The Director-General told the committee that the Auditor General has completed the audit and sent its report to the relevant department and the audit report will also be provided to the Public Accounts Committee. The chairman PAC said the case of alleged irregularities will be referred to the NAB or the FIA. The chairman committee directed the Auditor General's Office to provide audit documents as soon as possible and directed the concerned officials to appear before the meeting on July 22.
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