LAHORE - The fate of dozens of companies the PML-N government set up in Punjab as parallel entities to administrative department is uncertain.

The Supreme Court has exposed utility and performance of these companies, especially huge salaries and perks the heads of these companies are enjoying.

The companies were set up without any lawful procedure and given unbridled powers to disburse public funds.

Senior government officials were not happy with appointment of junior officers to these companies against high salaries. Packages that included former LDA DG Ahad Cheema, former Commissioner Lahore Rashid Mehmood Langrial, Secretary Specialized Health Najam Shah and others. The names of some of these officers reportedly were also put on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Initially, the Punjab treasury has directed the Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA), a subsidiary of the Board of Revenue (BoR), to operate its special drawing account (SDA) on a joint control basis. The authority was fully independent in drawing and disbursing any amount in the past. The authority was not bound to follow any criteria laid down by the finance department and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). The SDA will be operated as per the procedure circulated by the provincial finance department. The board nominated officers who can operate the joint account and issued a grant number under which the account will be operated.

According to the BoR, the account will be used to pay salaries of the staff and operational and capital expenses of the authority.

Sources in the BoR told this newspaper that the top revenue body had complaints about misappropriation of funds of the land record authority. They cited more than 400 illegal appointments to the authority and arrest of Deputy Project Director Maqbool Dhawla by the Anti-Corruption Establishment.

It was noted that the authority misused funds meant for land record centres across the province.

The sources said that cases against the companies are pending in the Supreme Court and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB); therefore, parent departments want to strictly monitor expenditure of the authorities and the companies.

The board may order a special audit of the authority and forensic audit of the record relating to allotment of agricultural land across the province.