PAC chairman Nadeem Afzal . – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly has instructed the Defence Ministry to ensure audit of departments working under it because it is illogical that while receiving salaries from the federal government they claim at the time of audit that they have to seek permission from the army’s General Headquarters (GHQ).

A PAC meeting presided over by its Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan on Wednesday also instructed the National Highway Authority (NHA) to post on its website the agenda and minutes of every board meeting for the sake of transparency and impose a ban on frequent renovation of offices.

The committee was informed that the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) was Rs3.345 billion defaulter of the NHA.

The audit department said new contracts were being awarded to the organisation despite the fact that it was a defaulter.

A representative of the department said it had requested the FWO for an audit last year but the organisation said it had sought approval from the GHQ which had not been given yet.

The PAC chairman said the departments working under the Defence Ministry received salaries from the government so they should not refuse to have their accounts audited.

Especially after the 18th Amendment, every department had to cooperate during audit, he said.

He said the same criteria should be used for the National Logistics Cell (NLC) and instructed the ministry to coordinate with the GHQ on the matter and reply within 20 days.

Speaking to NHA Chairman Muhammad Ali Gardezi, Mr Chan said that as a matter of routine every officer renovated his office after his appointment.

“If you want to see how public servants work go to India and see how they work” and immediately ban renovation of offices, he said.

MNA Zahid Hamid said he had come to know that the NHA had leased out eight kanals of land at the entrance of Islamabad near the motorway but the authority’s chief said the land had been leased out in 2003 when a ban had not been imposed.

MNA Noor Alam Khan said there was no fence along the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway and as a result people died and were injured in accidents caused by cattle crossing the road.

He alleged that the NHA had decided to acquire the land of five villages in his constituency but an award of compensation had not been announced because he had refused to grease the palm of some officials.

The NHA chairman said barbed wires were being erected along the motorway. He requested Mr Alam to inform him about the officers who had demanded money so that an inquiry could be held against them.

Hamid Yar Hiraj said there were cartels which had been making money through contracts of toll plazas.

He said decisions of the NHA board should be endorsed by the ministry.

The PAC chairman said the committee was not satisfied with the prequalification process of the NHA and it should be improved.

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