LAHORE – Under a historic agreement, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has presented himself and members of his team for accountability.

A memorandum of understanding was inked in Lahore’s Model Town area in this respect Thursday between the Punjab government and the Transparency International Pakistan.

As per the agreement, the international institution would review the rules and regulations and transparency of three mega projects – the laptop scheme, Ujala programme and metro bus project – and would present its report before the end of the constitutional tenure of the incumbent provincial government.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said this report would be brought before the people in its totality and, God forbid, if any irregularity was found, those responsible would be taken to task.

On behalf of the Punjab government, Energy Secretary Jehanzeb Khan, Higher Education Secretary Ijaz Munir and LDA Director General Ahad Cheema signed the MoU with TIP Chairman Sohail Muzaffar and Executive Director Saad Rashid.

Talking to a group of reporters, the chief minister said it was a historic day as the Punjab government had signed an MoU with the TIP to review the implementation and transparency of its three mega projects. The government, he said, had promoted transparency and a corruption-free culture and if corruption of even a single penny was proved about its development projects, he would be answerable to Allah Almighty and the people, and those responsible would not be spared.

The chief minister said the Punjab government had established a high example of accountability by presenting its three mega projects worth Rs36billion to the TIP. He said the TIP report would also unmask the reality of those accusing that the metro bus project cost Rs70billion or Rs90billion, besides clarifying the factual position regarding any corruption or violation of the PPRA rules in the implementation of the project.

Shahbaz said it was the right of the people to be aware that no corruption was committed in the resources made available for their welfare and the way these resources were spent in industrial, agriculture, educational, health and other welfare projects. He said the people had the right to know whether any irregularity was committed in the use of the national resources. He said it was essential to utilise all available national resources in a transparent manner to transform the deprivation of the people into happiness.

He said the only way to ensure transparent use of resources was to introduce ruthless accountability and implement an effective system of check and balance.

He said corruption and nepotism in the use of resources proved to be fatal for any society and if corruption was not stopped, it could prove life-threatening to the country.

Shahbaz alleged the federal government had resorted to loot and plunder in the name of reconciliation during the last five years over which every Pakistani was ashamed. He said all information and necessary documents would be promptly provided to the TIP to review the projects.

The chief minister, to a question, said that billions of rupees of foreign investment came in the province because of transparent policies of his government. He said concealing corruption in the name of reconciliation was a big crime, and the media should promote awareness among the people about the need for accountability to stop loot and plunder and corruption of national resources. “Those who are spending crores of rupees on advertisements should inform the masses about the source they were getting money from,” he said in response to another query.

Shahbaz said these were the same people who spent crores of rupees on the advertisement against the metro bus project, but they had themselves prepared a paper project of rapid mass system worth Rs240billion during their own era and spent an amount of Rs1.2billion on paper feasibility report out of which Rs400 million were embezzled.

He said his government had arrested the embezzler from Dubai and recovered Rs400million from him besides ensuring punishment to him. He said no foreign investment came to Pakistan during the era of these elements while foreign investment worth billions of rupees had been brought by the present Punjab government.

Interacting with the media, TIP’s Sohail Muzaffar said under the MoU transparency of the metro bus project, Ujala programme and laptops scheme would be reviewed besides analysing whether any ‘sifarish’, corruption or nepotism got involved in the completion of these projects. He said if any such thing was found, it would be brought forth.