LAHORE - The Transparency International, Pakistan chapter chairman, says the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has become a “toothless organization” as far as elimination of corruption is concerned and over the last one year and a half it has taken no action in corruption worth Rs 300 billion committed in various federal government departments.

Talking to The Nation, Adil Gilani, said those holding important positions in the so-called watchdog against corruption had been installed by the previous government and could not be expected to proceed against the high-ups of the previous setup.

He proposed a surgical operation in the NAB to improve its performance and uproot corruption which is one of the most serious problems facing the country at present.

Former NAB chairman Admiral Fasih Bokhari had once claimed that in Pakistan up to Rs eight billion were being pilfered through corrupt practices every day. A former State Bank governor had disclosed that $25 million were being taken out of the country every day from various airports.

Corruption and flight of capital have destroyed the national economy, but so far those in power have failed to take remedial measures.

The TIP chief said the chairman, all DGs, inquiry officers, prosecutors and others were the appointees of the previous setup, because of which they would not take action against former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, former commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, ex-PM’s son Moosa Gillani, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi and others. There is a dire need for a surgical operation in the NAB to improve its performance, Adil Gilani said. He regretted the government did not show any interest in probing cases of corruption. He, however, said it was very encouraging that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and PPRA had taken notice of some of the corruption cases.

He explained that generally identified corruption cases involved violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules of 2004. He claimed that under the rental power projects, the government awarded 14 contracts in violation of the PPRA rules as also stated in the ADB report, causing a loss of over US$ 2 billion. He said the TIP had also written a letter to the apex court on this case of massive corruption and irregularities.

He said the TIP had also written to different authorities about corruption in Pakistan Steel whose sale policy and procurement had allegedly caused a loss of Rs 22 billion. This corruption case, though ignored by the government, had been taken up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Gilani also talked of the alleged violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 by Pakistan Railways in the tender for procurement of US-made 150 locomotives, which might have caused a loss of at least Rs 40 billion to the national exchequer. The project, he said, was presently on hold.

Regarding the OGDCL which made headlines in the recent past when Prime Minister Gilani appointed his jail mate and a convict who was not even a graduate as its managing director, Gilani said the TI had also reported to the government authorities about the purchase of compressors for $30 million for Qadirpur Gas Field without inviting public tenders from M/s Valerus, which is a violation of the Public Procurement Rules 2004. He said the TIP also reported another violation of the Public Procurement Rules 2004 in tender for supply of rental drilling rigs costing Pakistan Rs 3 billion per year. He added the Trading Corporation of Pakistan awarded contracts of wheat and fertiliser at exorbitant rates to cartels of Stevedores and Transporters in 2009, causing loss of over Rs2 billion.

Regarding the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), he said it saved a claim of US $2.2 million for extra/additional work to the contractor of Expo 2010-Shagnahi, China, which was also supported by the ambassador of Pakistan in China. On TIP objections, he said, the TDAP rejected the claim.

About the National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL), he said the TIP identified a case of purchase of 803 kanals and 19 marlas plot in Dubai’s Liberty Tower at the rate of UAE Dirham 2,750 per square feet against the market price of 1,200 per square feet.

He said there were so many other corruption cases in various departments which were pointed out by TIP but no action was taken by NAB or even other anti-corruption institutions of Pakistan.