KARACHI - Public Accounts Committee of the Sindh Assembly is considered as most powerful committee of the house as it has power to carry out audit of the provincial government’s expenditure and summon any official in this regard.

The committee for the incumbent assembly tenure that comprises only Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) lawmakers, however, seems to have lacked exercising its power as the provincial bureaucracy is not paying heed to its directives.

On Wednesday, the committee in its fifth meeting scheduled the audit paras of the local government department for the year 2010-11 but could not discuss it as the department failed to submit the working papers that include replies from the department on the auditor general report.

Earlier, the committee had held four its meetings to review the audit paras of the Sindh University, police and prisons, irrigation and Quaid e Awam Engineering University Nawabshah.

The chairman without giving any warning to the authorities for lack of interest held the meeting for few minutes and later rescheduled the paras for a week.

“The committee was to discuss the paras of the local government department but its officials sought more time for preparations, therefore we gave them a week to submit the working papers on the paras,” said the chairman PAC Ghulam Qadir Chandio.

Moreover the finance ministry officials including the finance secretary Najam Ahmed Shah had also remained absent from the proceedings.

Faryal Talpur yet to attend PAC meeting

The PAC chairman had also written a letter to the chief secretary Sindh over absence of top finance officials from the proceedings and said that the committee would not tolerate ignorance of orders from officials and could order action against them.

However, the letter written two days back also fell on deaf ears and the top ministry officials did not attend the meeting. Sources in the finance ministry, however, said that they were busy in the process of budget-making and could not attend the proceedings regularly and had sent their representatives to attend the proceedings.

PAC members lack interest

in proceedings

Not only the bureaucracy but the members of the PAC have also shown their lack of interest in the proceedings and out of the seven members, only three of them attended the meeting that included jailed PPPP lawmaker Sharjeeln Inam Memon and other lawmakers Ghanwar Khan Isran and Abdul Karim Somroo.

According to provincial assembly official, who had attended all five meetings of the PAC, normally the attendance of the meeting remains at four members a time.

He further informed that top party leader and provincial lawmaker Faryal Talpur who was also a member of the committee is yet to attend it. “Farrukh Shah, the son of Khursheed Ahmed Shah, had also remained absent from Wednesday proceeding that was attended for the first time by Sharjeel Memon,” he said.

The PAC chairman when asked why the top party leaders were skipping the meetings continuously, he refrained from giving his comments and only said that the lawmakers had their issues and will and he could not force anyone to attend the proceedings.

“We hold our meetings as per rules and quorum of the meeting,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Sharjeel Inam Memon resigned from the committee saying that he was facing cases and could not sit in the PAC proceedings, keeping in view the high moral ground.

He, however, attended the Wednesday meeting but declined to talk to media. The chairman, while responding to his presence, said that his resignation was not accepted by the speaker and therefore, he still remains the member of the committee.

Opposition invited to join PAC

Chandio also invited the main opposition parties, who boycotted the elections of the provincial assembly committees, to join the PAC as it was the main body to keep a check on financial matters of the government. “I once again invite them to come and join the committee to serve the masses,” he said.

The opposition parties have refused to become part of the PAC unless the opposition leader is made the chairman of the accounts committee.