LAHORE: The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) board of directors has recommended termination of three senior officials and registration of an FIR, if needed, on charges of embezzlement and misconduct.

PEF BoD’s newly-appointed chairman Engr Qamarul Islam Raja and board member Muhammad Afzaal Bhatti examined the internal inquiries, which were pending for more than a year, and decided that Foundation Assisted School (FAS) director Nadeem Masood and additional director Multan Nasir Akram be terminated with immediate effect and if needed, they should be booked for attempted embezzlement and depriving the PEF of its assets by unlawfully selling the books and concealing the whole procedures.

The inquiry committee also recommended that Deputy Managing Director (DMD) HR Aamir Iftikhar’s contract be terminated and legal proceedings be conducted for misguiding and pressuring his subordinates to violate the rules in payment of health insurance by an insurance company for his father as well as concealing it from the higher authorities.

It is learnt the matters of sale of textbooks and health insurance payment were taken in May 2012 and March 2013, respectively, and were lying pending allegedly due to the influence of some bureaucrats. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif finally assigned the task to MPA Engr Qamarul Islam Raja to “dry-clean” the PEF and appointed him its BoD’s chairman.

Sources, close to the development, said the BoD, in its 57th meeting on Dec 24, 2014, had authorised Mr Raja and Mr Bhatti to finalise the two internal inquiries as well as the report of the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team.

The sources said the authorised committee found the payment of extra amount of Rs269,059 to the insurance company was made on July 18, 2013, month after the issue was highlighted through an application received in MD office on June 20, 2013 which was marked to the DMD-HR and DMD-Finance.

It is learnt the insurance company had received the call and email on July 15, 2013 from PEF HR department to provide the recovery note of extra payment and as a result they prepared the same and the payment of Rs 269,059 was subsequently made to the insurance company on July 18, 2013.

The contention of DMD HR Aamir Iftikhar that this arrangement was temporary was not maintainable on account of the fact that the payment was deposited four months later than the incident and one month after the complaint was received in the MD PEF office.

The committee also found that some instance of exceeded limits by different employees narrated by Aamir Iftikhar could not be established.

“The DMD-HR, who himself is a signatory to the agreement between the Foundation and insurance company, cannot be given the benefit of doubt on the account that he was not aware of the employees limit,” the committee observed and added that Mr Iftikhar’s role was unbecoming of an officer as he acted against the interest of the organisation.

TEXTBOOKS: In the case of unauthorised sale of textbooks, it is learnt that PEF Chairman Engr Qamarul Islam Raja had himself visited the foundation’s Multan regional office and found that the books were “removed or sold” by the end of May 2012. The exact dates could not be confirmed as absolutely no documents were present in the PEF regarding the “dubious” sale.

The committee found there were some 19,772 textbooks in the store to be distributed among the poor students in public sector and foundation-assisted schools. Additional director Nasir Akram, the then in-charge of Multan office, sold the books for Rs73,600 on the verbal directions of FAS director Nadeem Masood and handed over the amount to him.

Mr Masood later returned Rs23,000 to Nasir Akram for charges to be incurred for uploading and stacking of new books that were to be received in Multan office.

The committee found no approval for sale of books was taken from any authority; the books were stored and sold by Multan office unlawfully and in violation of procedures for sale or disposal of any asset.

Quite surprisingly, Nasir Akram also did not provide any details of the sales transaction, including proof of rates and even the identity of the purchaser.

Similarly, the FAS director did not inform his seniors about the transaction upon his orders. The director also failed in handling the cash in a proper manner and in sheer violation of the rules handed Rs23,000 to the additional director Multan from the unaccounted amount – apparently some sort of distribution of booty. FAS director Nadeem Masood had deposited the remaining amount in PEF account after a lapse of almost two months and that too after the case came in the knowledge of MD and DMD.

The committee reported Nadeem Masood’s contention that he was directed by DMD-Operations to get rid of the books could not be established as the DMD-operations himself had denied it. However, it said the conduct of DMD (operations) during the inquiry was condemnable and needed to be dealt with separately on disciplinary grounds, had he still been serving this organisation.

The committee also found that a major chunk of the books lying in Multan office was not outdated and ought to be distributed among the poor and needy children in the province. It presumed that the books were sold to some book vender for a handsome price.

“This is a reason that Nasir Akram did not provide any clue or information regarding identity of the purchaser,” it observed.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2015

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