LAHORE - Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah on Wednesday issued notice to the Punjab government in a petition against alleged corruption of Rs85 billion in its 56 firms, including Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

The CJ directed the government to come up with reply to why the companies were established when the local government system was already there.  The court also sought justification of establishment of these companies from the public fund and payments of hefty salaries to their employees. The CJ directed the government to explain who was conducting audit of these companies and adjourned the hearing until November 14.

Munir Ahmad, a local citizen, moved the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique and made respondent 56 companies, federal government, President Office, Prime Minister Office, Punjab governor, Punjab government, Chief Minister Office, NAB, FIA, Anti-Corruption Establishment, Auditor General of Pakistan and Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

A few identical petitions had already been pending adjudicating before the Lahore High Court.

The petitioner said Punjab government established over 56 public sector companies 9 years ago on the pretext of good governance and spent Rs150 billions on these firms.

“Actually this model of governance was the brainchild of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was impressed by the Turkish model of governance,” the petitioner said adding that it was the reason that Turkish people were hired as consultants in various companies and now they had been working in various mega projects. But these public sector companies failed to deliver, he alleged. He stated that just in 2016, the number of companies increased from 6 to 56. The petitioner submitted that if the data of the companies is collected it would be Rs 250 billion. No audit of these companies was carried out except one for performance audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan while none of the companies was sharing their expense details with Punjab Finance department and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, he said.  He further said neither these companies published any annual audit report while officials of these companies had been drawing huge salaries besides many other perks and privileges. The petitioner said that there was no record of Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala’s Waste Management Company. Moreover, Al-Burak and Azbak, Turkish companies, were awarded contracts by the provincial government in violation of merit, he claimed.  He said public money was being wasted on these companies.

He prayed the court to set aside public sector companies for being in violation of the Constitution.