ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly directed the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday to do away with the policy of allotting agricultural land to its senior army officers and stop the practice forthwith.
A meeting of the committee presided over by its chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal unanimously recommended immediate cancellation of a special incentive policy introduced by former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in 2006 under which bureaucrats who reach the maximum BPS-22 and judges of the Supreme Court are provided additional residential plots in Islamabad.
So far 236 people, including 21 judges, have benefited from this scheme, while 63 cases are pending.
Mr Gondal said the committee was against allotment of huge tracts of land by the defence ministry to its senior generals and had decided to pass a similar directive to the military authorities to stop this practice. However, he clarified that the PAC directive would not affect the allotment of land to widows of martyrs and deserving people.
He said that over the years both civil and military bureaucracies had heavily misused the policy of allotment of residential and agricultural lands, but this must end now.
However, Mr Gondal had a word of praise for the GHQ providing residences to its officers under a uniform policy and said the PAC had recommended to the Ministry of Housing and Works to implement a similar plan for civil servants. “The committee is not against public servants, but it wants an equitable policy which benefits every government servant,” he said.
Talking to Dawn, a senior military officer said the GHQ followed a prescribed criterion for allotment of agricultural land to its officers, adding that mainly families of the martyrs and the officers who suffered from disability during service were accommodated in this scheme.
A very limited number of retiring officers got farmland and that too after meeting a strict criterion, he said.
CANCELLATION: The PAC asked the government to cancel transfer of all plots which some influential people had reportedly acquired in low-lying areas to push them to Islamabad territory.
Mr Gondal said the policy of second plot was in violation of the Constitution which called for equal distribution of resources among the people of the country.
In July 2006, former prime minister Aziz had approved a special “assistance package for BPS-22 officers” under which the officers were given additional one kanal residential plots and their salary was increased by 20 per cent.
Mr Gondal said he had already talked to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who had assured him that directives of the PAC would be implemented.
At a meeting of the committee last week, Mr Gondal had warned that he would approach the Supreme Court if the government did not implement his committee’s directives on the issue of allotment of plots.
The PAC also recommended to the government to stop giving plots to bureaucrats who worked in the Capital Development Authority on deputation.
Throughout the proceedings, Auditor General of Pakistan Akhtar Buland Rana tried to persuade members of the committee to favour the policy of allotment of second plot to BPS-22 officers.