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LAHORE: A meeting that was presided over by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar decided on Thursday to allow the provincial cabinet to discard nearly 20 public companies made by the previous Shahbaz Sharif government because of their alleged mismanagement and misuse of funds, and the present set-up’s inability to fund them anymore.

The meeting which was attended by senior officials concerned including the chief secretary reportedly discussed in detail how to rid of the companies not required by the province any more.

The caretaker government of Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi had also initially decided to close down the companies which gained notoriety because of hefty pay package of their staff, alleged corruption by those who mattered and mismanagement. But it finally left the decision to the next elected government due to the advice by the officials concerned that the companies should not be closed down before the completion of NAB inquiries and audit objections against them.

The caretaker government was told that NAB was probing affairs of many companies which were also facing audit objections. And these could not be closed down before clearance from the auditor general and NAB. Closing down companies would mean dumping their matters being questioned by NAB and other agencies, it was told.

Official sources said that the meeting presided over by the chief minister decided to close down some of the companies. Out of the total 56, the province might retain around 36, an official said.

Sources said that the meeting asked the chief secretary, who is heading a sub-committee on the issue, to firm up recommendations for the closure of the selected companies in league with the departments concerned and submit them for the approval of the provincial cabinet in its next meeting.

The list includes cattle management company which cannot be closed down without amending or repealing the Local Government Act 2013.

Officials said that these companies had robed the government of revenue worth billions of rupees which was going into the pockets of certain people. And these would be closed down automatically after the introduction of a new local government law in near future.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018