ISLAMABAD, Dec 12: Irked by a statement of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari that the country was losing up to Rs7 billion to corruption each day, some members of the federal cabinet on Wednesday sought an explanation on the matter from the NAB chief.

On its part, the NAB decided to release to the media on Friday a paper to substantiate the claims made by Admiral (retd) Bokhari.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) believed that the NAB chief’s statement was quite damaging for the ruling coalition, particularly because the general election was approaching fast, sources said. That was why the cabinet meeting on Wednesday saw a heated debate on the issue.

The spokesman for NAB, Zafar Iqbal, said that Admiral (retd) Bokhari had on different occasions underlined the need for prevention of corruption because Rs6bn to Rs7bn was being embezzled on a daily basis.

“The NAB is in the process of preparing a position paper pertaining to the wastage of public funds due to inefficiency and lack of capacity on the part of the concerned stakeholders,” he remarked.

Mr Iqbal said that NAB, under its awareness and prevention policy framework, was looking into various issues relating to different stakeholders, especially the regulators, for improvement in the existing systems.  Since March, the NAB had put under scrutiny 173 projects of the federal and provincial governments that carried a financial impact of Rs1.475 trillion, he added.

Talking to Dawn, former finance secretary Dr Salman Shah said the total amount lost to corruption daily could be between Rs3bn and Rs4bn.

He said that corruption could be controlled in the country if its top leadership refrained from indulging in wrongdoing.

Saqib Sherani, a former economic adviser to the present government, said that corruption had increased over the last two years but the claims of the NAB chairman should be verified.

He, however, said the NAB chief’s claims could well be true.

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