LAHORE - The controversial private account of the Punjab governor opened in a private bank to collect donations for the flood-affected people of Sindh had the nod of the Ministry of Law as well as the opinion of the Federal Board of Revenue.

The account, titled ‘Governor Punjab Flood Relief Fund 2011’, was opened in October 2011 which also had the signatures of his two advisors, Zahid Bashir and Farooq Arshad, who claim transparency in the disbursement process.

“The governor had sought legal opinion from the Ministry of Law and also from the FBR for opening the account in a private bank,” Zahid Bashir, one of the signatories to the account, told The Nation.

Though no financial irregularities have been reported so far, the very fact that the account was not opened in a public sector bank as required under the rules has made the whole affair somewhat doubtful, especially in a situation when no official audit of private accounts can be done and the governor’s advisers are reluctant to give the details about the money raised through this account and its disbursement.

Governor Khosa has taken the stance that he had opened the account in a private bank to avoid what he calls ‘procedural hiccups’ which, in his opinion, might have hindered immediate relief to the flood-affected people.

He also maintains that the account was opened in a bank approved by the State Bank of Pakistan and that the DCOs concerned had every detail of the goods and medicines provided to the people.

When Farooq Arshad was contacted to seek details of the money raised and its disbursement, he said two truckloads of medicines and other goods were distributed among the flood victims through the DCOs concerned and further details could be had from them. “I did not maintain any record of the money raised as wells as the spending as it was not my job,” he further said. 

Zahid Bashir said that no public money was involved in the whole affair. “The money raised from private people was distributed among private men and everything was crystal clear,” he said.

Bashir, however, said that related information could be had from the governor’s secretariat. 

It may be mentioned here that Zahid Bashir and Farooq Arshad are not advisers to the governor at the moment. They, however, enjoyed this status at the time when the account was opened without involving any official of the governor’s secretariat in a departure from the set practice.