ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by PPP leader Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, seems reluctant to take up special audit reports related to the objections in multi-billion rupees projects of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) launched during the previous PPP government.
On Tuesday, the scrutiny of these special audit reports was part of the PAC agenda. However, the committee deferred deliberations on the reports and examined other ‘minor’ issues.
The audit reports were for the year 2010 and 2011 about the Zero Point Interchange (ZPI), Faisal Avenue Interchange and toll facilities, which were laid before the PAC in May last year.
Currently, the PAC is examining the audit paras raised by the audit office on the CDA’s spending in 2012 and 2013. These are mostly related to minor financial irregularities.
It may be mentioned that during 2010-11, the affairs of the CDA were allegedly managed by a local businessman who was close to the leadership of the PPP.
A senior audit official told Media that “since these ‘irregularities’ had been committed during the PPP government and some influential people were behind them, the PAC seemed reluctant to take them up.” He claimed that since May 2014, the reports had been tabled before the PAC for seven times but the committee deferred their scrutiny.
A CDA official said though during the PPP government the affairs of the civic agency were managed by the businessman, there was no evidence against him as he allegedly carried out the wrongdoings through the CDA officials.
Since May 2014, audit reports were tabled before committee seven times but were never taken up
He, however, said since the PAC had already set a precedent by asking the authority to recover Rs34 million from the CDA director, who was allegedly involved in awarding a ‘parking site’ to a private contractor, the officials who abetted the businessman may also be asked for the recovery of billions of rupees.
“But the CDA officials may expose the ‘bigwigs’ behind these irregularities to save their skin,” he added.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a PAC member, said the parliamentary forum had become dormant. “They are just wasting time,” he added. All these matters should be referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) but since it has been done in connivance with heavyweights, one should not hope for any positive outcome from such proceedings.
Despite repeated attempts, PAC Chairman Khurshid Shah and PPP leader Syed Naveed Qamar could not be contacted. Another PAC member Mian Abdul Manan said, “These reports may be taken up in the forthcoming meeting.” Explaining the reason for the delay, Mr Manan said last year because of the ‘boycott’ of the auditor general of Pakistan, Akhtar Buland Rana, the PAC remained dysfunctional for a few months and the reports could not be examined.
It may be mentioned that the PAC meetings could not be held from August to October 2014 after the auditor general announced that no official from his office would appear before the committee unless its Chairman Khurshid Shah was replaced with a non-PPP member.
The AGP was of the opinion that since the PAC was set to take up audit reports relating to the PPP’s stint in power from 2008 to 2013, Mr Shah should not chair the meetings.
The PAC, on the other hand, sent a reference against the auditor general to the Supreme Judicial Council on August 11 for allegedly using his position to get his salary and other perks increased, which is still pending for adjudication.
In the special reports, the auditor general office pointed out that the civic agency awarded Rs2.3 billion work on the ZPI “beyond permissible limit”, paid undue amount of Rs30 million to the contractor, made an irregular revision for enhancing the contract from Rs2.7 billion to Rs4.1 billion, extra payment of Rs91 million due to the increased volume of work besides non-execution of work according to the design, causing a loss of Rs84 million, and making an extra payment of Rs100 million on different heads.
The audit authorities pointed out that in Faisal Avenue Interchange, the government suffered a loss of over Rs1.2 billion due to excess expenditure, a change in the design costing Rs1.1 billion and other irregularities worth over Rs500 million.
The report related to the toll facilities claimed that the civic agency caused a loss of Rs102 million, award of fee collection on build, operate and transfer basis resulted in the loss of Rs206 million, non-handing over of the equipment to the CDA Rs424 million. The audit office also pointed out that the CDA did not obtain a performance bond from the contractors worth Rs47 million.