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KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday got the bank accounts of the province’s largest municipality frozen, apparently punishing the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for not allowing its new municipal commissioner posted by the competent authority to officially join it. However, the accounts were restored a few hours later on a directive of the chief minister, officials said.

“The accounts were frozen when the KMC refused to allow the new municipal commissioner to assume charge. However, the accounts were restored a few hours later when Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the local government minister to do so,” a senior official told Dawn.

Besides, he added, Mr Shah also asked the minister to withdraw Dr Badar Jameel Mandhro, the official at the centre of the row, and notify another officer’s posting instead.

Municipality’s accounts frozen, restored a few hours later

Earlier, the provincial local government, housing and town planning ministry on Thursday got the accounts of the KMC frozen by sending a letter to the presidents of the National Bank of Pakistan, Sindh Bank and Habib Bank Limited.

The letter stated: “The Government of Sindh has posted a full-fledged cadre officer namely Dr Badar Jameel Mandhro as municipal commissioner, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Kara­chi dated 15-08-2017, but he has not been allowed to operate the accounts of the KMC and the same are being operated by unauthorised persons, which is highly objectionable.

“In order to ensure the maintenance of administrative and financial discipline and to avoid misuse of funds, it has been decided to seize the accounts of KMC being operated in your branches till further directions.”

The letter further said: “In view of the above, you are requested to please disseminate this to respective branches under your administrative control with instructions not to entertain the cheques of the KMC till further orders.”

A KMC official quoted Mayor Wasim Akhtar as saying that the Sindh government was itself responsible for the “chaos, bad governance and mismanagement”, which was why it did not consult the mayor before notifying the municipal commissioner.

“It is mandatory to get advice of the mayor before making such appointments,” the KMC spokesman said.

However, the Sindh government official said Dr Mandhro was a cadre officer while the KMC had earlier appointed an officer of grade-18 to replace the municipal commissioner who retired weeks ago.

“The KMC’s appointee was a junior officer. Besides, he was not a cadre officer as Dr Mandhro is. The municipal commissioner happens to be the municipality’s principal accountant, thus, no other [person] can operate the accounts,” said the Sindh government official.

However, he added that the chief minister asked for replacing Dr Mandhro with another cadre officer as the KMC’s municipal commissioner to avoid an “unnecessary controversy”.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017