Govt ‘rolls back’ environment company

December 01, 2017

LAHORE - Punjab government has rolled back one of the 56 controversial companies and decided to inform the Lahore High Court and the anti-graft body that it no longer existed in the official documents.

'Punjab Environment and Effluent Company ' was established in 2008, but it was missing in the official record of the environment department. Later, it was found that it had been established as a subsidiary to the Punjab Industrial Development and Management Company (PIEDMC). 

It was disclosed in a recent meeting of the board of directors held to take stock of the companies, as the Lahore High Court and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have sought their details from the government.

The secretaries of the departments of industries, labor, EPD and PIEDMC officials attended the meeting which was told that environment company was not functional any more.  The meeting declared it defunct and decided to convey the same to the LHC and the anti-graft body.  Punjab government is facing severe allegations regarding the alleged misappropriation of funds in the companies as many of these are spending funds without audit of their accounts.

The government has now constituted a special committee under the chair of additional chief secretary to look into the accounts and other matters of these companies. 

The office of Auditor General has already issued notices to Punjab Coal Power Company , South Punjab Forest Company , Punjab Mineral Development Company , Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board Company , Punjab Skill Development Fund Company and many others to furnish details of their expenditures.  As per sources, audit reports of three dozen companies were recently presented to governor but some two dozen companies including those on power and energy were still resisting the audit of their accounts.

Last month, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had issued notice to the Punjab government in a petition against alleged corruption of Rs85 billion in its 56 firms, including Punjab Saaf Pani Company .

The CJ directed the government to come up with reply to why the companies were established when the local government system was already there.  The court also sought justification of establishment of these companies from the public fund and payments of hefty salaries to their employees. The CJ directed the government to explain who was conducting audit of these companies and adjourned the hearing until November 14.

Munir Ahmad, a local citizen, moved the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique and made respondent 56 companies, federal government, President Office, Prime Minister Office, Punjab governor, Punjab government, Chief Minister Office, NAB, FIA, Anti-Corruption Establishment, Auditor General of Pakistan and Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

A couple of weeks ago, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated inquiry into multiple charges against 56 public limited companies established by the Punjab government.

“All legal formalities should be completed first, including collection of sufficient evidence without hampering routine work of these companies, before taking [any] action,” NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal was as directing the director general of the bureau’s Lahore branch

The NAB chairman issued these orders after receiving multiple public complaints of alleged corruption, irregularities, waste of public resources, absence of transparency in tendering various projects and regular audits, favoritism in appointments and inordinate delay in completion of different projects.