ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Textile and Industry revealed on Friday that the government has managed to recover Rs 2.25 billion out of Rs 2.72 billion embezzled in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) in different corruption cases during the last five years.
"Government recovered Rs 2.25 billion from the accused while recovery of the remaining money is still in process," Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi told Upper House of Senate during the question hour on Friday.
Giving details about the NICL corruption case, the Minister said five cases of corruptions were registered against accused. The Supreme Court had taken suo moto notice on October 12, 2010 and initiated legal proceedings in the purchase of properties by NICL.
"The Secretary Commerce, on behalf of the State and on the directions of the Supreme Court requested FIA to register five cases against the involved persons," the Minister said.
According to the Minister, first FIR No. 21 of 2010 was registered by FIA regarding purchase of plot of land measuring 10 acres by NICL at Karachi in August 2009 on exorbitant rates. On the directions of Supreme Court the subject plot was re-evaluated by NESPAK for Rs. 412.61 million. The differential amount of Rs.490 million stands recovered. This case was transferred from Court of Special Judge (Anti-Corruption) Karachi to NAB court No. 2, Karachi in compliance of Supreme Court order dated 22nd November, 2013. The matter has been adjourned without any proceeding until 18th April 2014.
The government got register another FIR No. 24 of 2010 by FIA to probe the matter regarding purchase of 803 kanals of land by NICL at Lahore on exorbitant price of Rs. 1,686.30 million. The whole amount stands recovered.
Third FIR No. 29 of 2010 was registered by FIA regarding purchase of 20 kanals of land in Lahore by NICL in 2009 for an amount of Rs. 1,065.30 million. The subject plot was re-evaluated by NESPAK for Rs. 562.50 million. NICL has recovered Rs. 80.40 million, leaving the recoverable balance of Rs. 422.40 million.
FIR No. 14 of 2010 was registered by FIA regarding purchase of office space by NICL for an amount of Rs. 1,649.60 million at Dubai. On re-evaluation done by M/s Hamptons International, the purchase price matched the price indicated by M/S Hamptons international. No recovery was indicated by FIA. This case was transferred from Court of Special Judge (Anti-Corruption), Karachi, to NAB Court No. 3, Karachi.
The matter has been adjourned without any proceeding until 28th April, 2014. FIR No. 13 of 2010 was registered by FIA regarding embezzlement of NICL funds in the award of contract of painting work and furniture at NICL offices at Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.
"It was alleged that renovation work has been done at an exorbitant price. The necessary re-evaluation was done by M/S Nayyer Ali Dada & Associates, which reported that quality of items was in line with the prices of the items. The accused M/s Casa Bella was acquitted on 22-11-2011," the minister told Senate.
When asked to inform the Senate about further steps taken by the government in NICL corruption case, the Minister said that the government had forced then Chairman NICL to go on leave before the expiry of his tenure, while FIRs were lodged against all the accused.
"Government issued red warrants of the absconders and initiated departmental enquires against responsible officers," Abbas Khan Afridi said adding that NICL is vigorously pursuing the matter in the courts.
Answering another question about granting non-discriminatory market access to Indian goods, Afridi said all the leading chambers of commerce & industry and trade associations of Pakistan were positive regarding normalization of Pak-India trade. Moreover, Pakistan's exports to India would expectedly increase in approximately three years from $325 million to around $ 1.3 billion through the process, he informed. He assured that the government would remove the reservations of all the stakeholders.
GOVT VOWS ERADICATING POLIO IN MIN TIME
The government Friday took to assure the Senate it will take every measure to control polio virus in the shortest possible time as it was leaving no stone unturned to make country polio free.
"I assured you the federal government is using its resources to fight polio. We will eradicate it soonest," State minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar told the upper house of parliament.
She informed the senate that around 1 million vaccination cards have been printed by the federal government which will be sent to the provinces. However, local documents, which are required by the provincial governments, will be valid until June 1, she added.
The mister was responding to a joint-adjournment motion by opposition MPs which was moved by Senator Rubina Khalid of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), about international travel restrictions on Pakistan by World Health Organisation. Saira told the house the issue is being discussed with the authorities concerned.
She said government vaccination campaign across country that flowed in from districts to provinces and then to the federal ministry, has been largely successful. "Success rate of the immunisation campaigns is as high as 80 to 90 percent. And it is amazing," she added.
Saira however said the government was facing some resistance from some section of religious personalities who were still influencing a large number of people to refrain from getting their babies immunised. "Around 0.5 percent of refusals to vaccinate the children were based on religious grounds," she said.
Elaborating her point, the minister said Balochistan unfortunately remains the least accessible province in terms of immunisation, with just 16% population immunised, followed by Sindh with 29%. Punjab has the highest level of immunisation with 68.5 %, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is at 52.5%. She said big cities including Karachi, Peshawar and Fata –particularly North Waziristan – are areas where the strain of the poliovirus is dangerous.
Also on Friday, the senators belonging to opposition parties staged a token walkout from the house against privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) saying it was not being done in a transparent manner and according to the constitution.
Members belonging to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also staged a token walkout from the house against non-issuance of passport and NICOP to their leader Altaf Hussain, who has been living in a self-exile in London for over two decades.