Corruption in 56 companies: Punjab govt submits details to NAB today

LAHORE – Punjab government will submit detailed record of 56 companies to NAB authorities today (Wednesday) in connection with mega corruption scam worth Rs80b, The Nation has learnt.

The step has been taken in response to NAB’s letter to the Punjab government showing concerns over the alleged mega corruption up to Rs80 billion in the companies.  In an official communication, dated 21st November, secretary industries has directed DG industries and the registrar to appear before NAB Lahore’s assistant director along with the required information about the companies by November 22 (today).

NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had ordered an extensive investigation into the reported corruption in at least 56 companies functioning under the Punjab government. The Lahore High Court (LHC) is also hearing a corruption case of about Rs80 billion corruption in these companies.

Official sources said that NAB had written a letter to registrar Industries, Commerce & Investment (IC&I) Department on 17th November for provision of information and relevant record regarding inquiry against the management of public limited companies working under the province of Punjab.

Since the companies are registered under the Companies Ordinance 1984 or Companies Act 2017 in the IC&I Department so the NAB sought details from the registrar of this department.

The NAB Lahore Deputy Director Coordination Allah Rakha had requested to provide complete record of all the public sector companies established by the government of Punjab which are registered with the IC&I Department. The NAB had stressed the IC&I registrar that the record should not be limited to the documents of incorporation and registration, list of director, annual reports of the companies and any other documents pertaining to affairs of the said companies.  The NAB had also requested that the concerned officer may be directed to appear before Assistant Director Muhammad Ikram.

In October 2017, the Punjab Chief Secretary Capt (r) Zahid Saeed had also sought details of the public sector companies established in the province from all the administrative secretaries within shortest time of one day.

Surprisingly enough, the CS office didn’t know the details of the government-owned companies where government officers were deputed on contract or deputation and whether terms and conditions were settled by it or not.

Moreover, the profile of Chief Operating Officers (CEOs), salary, service structure of other key position holders of the companies was also demanded from the departments.

Details sought by the CS office included a total financial outlay of the company, whether it was audited or not, if yes the last date of the audit. Details like whether the company was registered under companies ordinance 1984 or Companies Act 2017, grant of the loan from the Finance Department, CEO status whether he was a civil servant or a private person, his date of appointment and his per month perks. Other information sought by the CS office included under which department the company was established, nature of the charge with the CEO i.e. substantial or additional, mode of appointment by transfer or through competitive selection process, his BPS, tenure of the appointment, extension if any, his performance and whether terms and conditions got settled by the S&GAD or not.

The CS took this emergency step on the writ petition of Sania Kanwal against alleged corruption in Punjab Saaf Pani Company. Details were sought of the Punjab Saaf Pani Company like its CEO, his qualification, salary and other privileges etc.

The court had expressed serious dismay and censured the Punjab chief secretary for not furnishing the details of public sector companies. The LHC judge Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi said the answer must be submitted as to why the government was reluctant to submit details of the public sector companies.

He also observed that the chief minister would be summoned if the details were not submitted on the next hearing.

The judge had also questioned one officer of grade-20 is getting Rs200,000 while other of the same grade is drawing Rs 2 million. It also falls under the ambit of corruption. It has become a tradition that a company is established and then the entire record is set on fire, the judge maintained. It was also said that the court will not allow law of the jungle and will protect the taxpayers’ money; Justice Naqvi said, adding, due to corruption of the officers every citizen is under debt.

Moreover, the petitioner Sania Kanwal, in her petition, also stated that billions of rupees from national exchequer were being spent on foreign tours of the Saaf Pani Company’s officials, besides the purchase of bulletproof vehicles from the money allocated for provision of clean drinking water to the public. The court made queries that for which project the interviews were being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Punjab Saaf Pani Company CEO Nabeel Javed was not available for comments. Javed, the company CEO for North, was drawing Rs1.4 million as salary, he told the court. Capt (r) Usman Yunus, is the other company CEO for South who replaced Khalid Sherdil, son of former Chief Secretary AZK Sherdil. Many officers like directors, deputy directors and others too were getting handsome take-home salaries.  Earlier, the court had also summoned the anti-corruption director general Brig (r) Muzaffar Ranjha to appear in person over the alleged corruption of Rs7 billion in the company.

The CEO of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Company drew Rs 1.5 million per month. Likewise, there are more such public sector bodies, besides authorities, like Lahore Transport Company, Lahore Parking Company, Lahore Waste Management Company, Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company, South Punjab Forest Company, Punjab Health Initiative Management Company, Punjab Power Development Company, Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power Limited, Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power (Pvt) Ltd, Quaid-e-Azam Hydel Power (Pvt) Ltd, Punjab Municipal Development Fund Company and others. They were set up under Public Sector Companies Corporate Governance Rules, 2013 or other relevant laws. The CEOs of these companies and other key position holders were drawing different salaries but in lacs.

An administrative secretary also on anonymity said that the appointment of CEOs in the newly established district health and education authorities was underway. He said that huge packages for these CEOs would further discriminate salary structures on the district level as well that had already badly affected the provincial and federal service officers working in the provincial headquarters. “The current scenario had forced the senior officers of the Punjab government to become aspirants for the top slots of the newly-established 72 authorities at district level,” he held.



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