Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday skipped an inquiry of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) pertaining to the Punjab Saaf Pani Company (PSPC) scam and instead, sent a representative who submitted written answers to the bureau's questions.

The NAB in November last year had launched a thorough probe into alleged corruption in the 56 public-sector companies formed by the Shahbaz Sharif administration in Punjab. These companies are accused of certain irregularities, recruitment in violation of procurement rules and merit, nepotism, and non-completion of various projects in time.

Last month, NAB issued a notice to Shahbaz Sharif, directing him to appear before a combined investigation team of NAB Lahore in connection with the affairs of the Saaf Pani Company. He was also directed to bring the relevant record.

Instead of Shahbaz Sharif, a representative, Amir Afzal, appeared on his behalf on Monday and submitted written replies to the questions asked by NAB.

According to NAB officials, Shahbaz was summoned because he, in his capacity as a chief minister, had approved the alleged illegal projects being run by the company.

After Shahbaz was a no-show, NAB once again summoned the PML-N head, directing him to appear before the bureau's Lahore office on June 25.

A day earlier, Malik Mohammad Ahmad, ex-Punjab government spokesman, had told Dawn: "Shahbaz Sharif will appear before the NAB on Monday to reply to its queries with regard to the Saaf Pani Company. Sharif has served the people of the province with full dedication and honesty, and he will clarify any matter in this regard.”

In April, the Supreme Court was informed during a hearing in the Saaf Pani Company case that despite Rs4 billion being spent on this project not a single drop of clean water has been made available to the citizens.

The company’s CEO had told the court that Rs300 million had been spent on the services of foreign consultants so far, an estimated amount of Rs150 billion had been allocated for the whole project, while 116 plants of clean water installed at a cost of Rs4bn.

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