LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Monday sought assistance of the Punjab advocate general on several petitions challenging formation of 56 public sector companies, including Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

Justice Shahid Karim took up the petitions and observed that the issue of duplication of resources would be decided once and for all. Formation of public sector companies in the presence of a local government is the issue, he said. The judge also observed that the case would be taken up on a daily basis from the next date of hearing and put off further proceedings until Nov 28.

Azhar Siddique, Sheraz Zaka and Sania Kanwal had moved the petitions, saying the Punjab government had established over 56 public sector companies some nine years ago on the pretext of good governance. He said that over Rs150 billion were spent on these companies from the exchequer.

He said that formation of companies, a model of governance, was the brainchild of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif who was impressed by the Turkish model of governance and followed it here. He said that it was the reason that Turkish people were hired as consultants in various companies and now they had been working on various mega projects. The Punjab government’s companies project faced a huge setback as it failed to deliver, he said. He said in 2016 alone the number of companies increased from six to 56.

He said these companies had expenditure of Rs250 billion, but no audit of these companies was done except one by the auditor general of Pakistan. He said that even these companies were not sharing their expense details with the Punjab Finance Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

He alleged that these companies never published any annual audit report while officials of these companies had been drawing huge salaries besides many other perks and privileges. He submitted that there was no record of Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala’s waste management companies. He said Al-Burak and Azbak, Turkish companies, were awarded contracts by the provincial government in violation of merit. He claimed that the public money was being wasted on these companies. Sania Kanwal alleged that a road show was held in UAE for recruitment for Punjab Saaf Pani Company where public money was wasted. They requested the court to set aside public sector companies for being in violation of the Constitution.

Sheraz Zaka submitted that MPA Ramzan Siddique Bhatti was working as one of the directors of the Lahore Transport Company; MPAs Nasreen Nawaz, Ramzan Siddique Bhatti, and Kiran Dar were functioning as directors of the Lahore Parking Company; MPAs Kashif Padhiar, Aman Ullah Khan, Qazi Adnan Fareed, Rana Baber Hussain, Chaudhry Lal Hussain, Mahmood Qadir Khan, Qamar-ul-Islam and Waheed Gull were functioning as directors of the Punjab Saaf Pani Company; MPA Majid Zahoor was functioning as one of the directors of the Lahore Waste Management Company and MPA Hussain Jahanian Gardezi was functioning as one of the directors of the Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company. He submitted that these five companies were incorporated under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984 and these companies are owned by the Punjab government and regulated under the Public Sector Companies Corporate Governance Rules 2013. He said that these MPAs were functioning as directors of five different public sector companies in violation of section 3(7) of Public Sector Companies Corporate Government Rules 2013. Sania Kanwal said that billions of rupees from the national exchequer were being spent on foreign tours of the Saaf Pani Company officials and they were touring Dubai every coming day.

 She alleged that officials were purchasing expensive bulletproof cars from the money allocated for provision of pure and clean water to the public.

The petitioner alleged that there was massive corruption in the company. She said that being an eligible candidate, she had applied for the post but was never called for an interview by the authority. She sought transparency in working of this company. She also requested the court to take notice of the alleged corruption and mismanagement in the company.