ISLAMABAD: Former minister for housing and works Rehmatullah Kakar is behind the multi-billion rupee scam in Bhara Kahu, a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) told a meeting of the committee on Wednesday.
During a scrutiny of the audit report on the accounts of the Ministry of Housing and Works, PAC took up an investigation report of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) in Bhara Kahu.
According to a subcommittee of the PAC, FGEHF had signed an agreement with Green Tree for developing 3,000 kanals of land in Bhara Kahu.
The firm purchased land for between Rs50,000 and Rs95,000 per kanal from local villagers in three revenue estates in Bhara Kahu but sold it to FGEHF for over Rs900,000 per kanal.
During the PAC meeting on Wednesday, Secretary Housing Babar Hassan Bharwana said the ministry has so far released Rs2 billion of Rs2.75 billion, which is the cost of the development of the said housing project.
Mr Bharwana said that the developer has not even constructed an access road to link the site to the main road yet. During the last year, the PAC had asked NAB to investigate the matter. However, when a discussion on the progress was started, a NAB official submitted a two-page report.
Committee members noted that the report lacked even the basic information regarding the bank accounts of Green Tree Chief Executive Officer Abdul Hafeez Abbasi and the transactions made.
PAC member Mian Abdul Manan alleged that the real beneficiary of the deal was the then housing and works minister, Rehmatullah Kakar. He claimed Mr Kakar had established a private hospital in Quetta from the money he received from the said scheme.
The housing project was started in 2009 and is yet to be developed nine years on. PAC had asked NAB to probe the inordinate delay in the completion of the project.
As per the audit report, the housing project was abandoned by the contractor. However, the issue was resolved in terms suggested by the FGEHF executive committee.
The Supreme Court had in February 2013 ordered that Green Tree execute the development of the housing project as per the agreement it signed with the FGEHF. The PAC noted that instead of an investigator, NAB had played the role of a mediator in this case.
PAC member, Dr Arif Alvi asked why NAB was mediating in the matter instead of initiating criminal proceedings against the private firm. Senator Azam Swati replied that it appears like the remnants of former NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry’s administration are still enjoying decision making powers in the bureau.
Mr Manan said he was surprised that SC had not raised objections over the alarming difference in the sale and purchase of the said land.
PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah concluded the discussion and said the NAB chairman is due to brief the committee on the overall performance of the bureau on Feb 27 and asked Secretary Committee Arif Rahim to add the matter of the Bhara Kahu housing scheme to the agenda on that date.
Mr Shah expressed dissatisfaction over the working of the auditor general and said audit reports are presented before the PAC without scrutiny.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018