ISLAMABAD: Taking exception to the federal cabinet’s allegation of corruption, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) dropped the agenda of its Thursday meeting and its Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain sought reports from the auditor general for Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about the Broadsheet’s case.
The PAC also directed its secretariat to write a letter to the secretary cabinet division regarding alleged corruption of the committee which had come under discussion in the recent meeting of the federal cabinet.
Interestingly, the PAC last week held its meeting in-camera over summoning two members of the federal cabinet – energy minister Omar Ayub Khan and special assistant to the prime minister on petroleum Nadeem Babar – since they challenged the suo motu powers of the committee.
The committee has sought a report from the energy ministry on alleged loss of Rs122 billion due to delay in the import of LNG.
Warns of filing a complaint in superior courts if issue is not resolved within parliament
The minister, on the other hand, wrote a letter to the chairperson of the committee claiming that the committee lacked jurisdiction of taking suo motu notice on the basis of press reports.
In a subsequent meeting of the federal cabinet, reportedly some members leveled corruption allegation against the PAC.
In Thursday’s meeting, the PAC chairman claimed that the committee in the span of two-and-a-half years had recovered Rs500 billion. He termed it unfortunate if the committee was to blame for corruption.
He asked Chief Whip Amir Dogar to bring the matter in the notice of the speaker National Assembly and warned of filing a complaint before superior courts if the issue was not resolved within parliament.
PAC member Sheikh Rohale Asghar walked out in protest against the news items regarding allegation by the cabinet. He said the federal cabinet had leveled the allegation without even noticing that majority of the committee members belonged to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
He said the cabinet was also ignorant of the functioning of the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) and the accountant general of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR).
It may be mentioned that the auditor general conducts audit of government’s spending while the AGPR disburses payment of salaries, development projects and other government expenses. The news reports alleged that the AGP releases payment after taking bribe.
Senator Sherry Rehman said the PAC had started an audit of the expenditures of the current government and in order to create the process of accountability controversial, the federal cabinet had leveled allegations against the committee. According to her, the government wanted to paralyse the institution through media trial.
Talking to the mediapersons, the PAC chairman said the committee will take up the Broadsheet’s case on Jan 19.
He said the AGP had been asked to probe under which circumstances NAB had signed an agreement with the firm when the agreement lapsed and the amount paid to Broadsheet.
It may be mentioned that in 2000 Broadsheet was hired by Gen Musharraf’s government to work with the newly set up NAB to track down Pakistanis’ ill-gotten wealth stashed overseas. The contract was terminated in 2003.