KARACHI: The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) issued notices to the senior hierarchy of the Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC) asking them to appear before authorities to clarify charges of “organised corruption”, officials said on Friday.
The notice was sent to Dr Minhaj Qidwai, Dr Amir, Dr Farhana Memon, Dr Sandeep, Dr Ayaz Tunio and Dr Manzoor Bhutto of the SHCC.
It said that an inquiry was being conducted by the ACE Sindh with the approval of the competent authority.
“During the course of subject proceedings, it has surfaced that a racket of officers [at SHCC] have raked in illegal amount under duress of sealing of medical units and facilities of private and public sector across the province, especially in Karachi, on flimsy grounds, only to be unsealed after a bribe through agents, who have been identified, painstakingly,” said the notice.
“Same modus operandi has been adopted in the name of licensing, registration and inspection. Moreover, evidence has also [been] established that embezzlement of budget through bid rigging, expenditure incurred through fictitious and managed billing under split schemes and quotations of dummy vendors,” it added.
It asked the SHCC officials to appear before the inquiry officer latest by Oct 16 for rebuttal of the charges levelled against them.
The SHCC officials will have to carry details of inspection, fines, sealing, unsealing, registration, licensing, etc, executed in the past three years duly showing justification for either action.
The SHCC has been notified less than two years ago — around five years after its bill was passed by the Sindh Assembly.
Statement of year-wise budget, its expenditure, details of schemes or items on which expenditure was incurred and details of vendors and bank statement of designated accounts have also been sought by the ACE authorities.
Health minister irked by ACE raid
Health Minister Azra Pechuho expressed her displeasure when she was asked about the ACE’s action against SHCC at an event.
She said that the ACE should have contacted her ministry before taking formal action against the commission.
She said such actions would hamper the commission’s routine work to improve healthcare profile in the province.
Dr Pechuho said the SHCC was facing dearth of human resources.
A spokesperson for the SHCC welcomed the confidence showed by the health minister in the commission’s functioning and said such actions by the ACE officials were tantamount to harassing its staff.
The spokesperson said issuing video and details about the raid on SHCC offices was inappropriate and the commission would furnish its reply to the notice of the ACE through legal means.
“The act is sheer victimisation of its employees for their actions on their recent activities geared towards quality improvement and patient safety. There is always room for improvement,” said the spokesperson.