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NAB action sought against Elementary Education Foundation chief over corruption

Updated March 23, 2019

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Education official is accused of misusing funds allocated for enrolment of out-of-school children across KP. — AFP/File
Education official is accused of misusing funds allocated for enrolment of out-of-school children across KP. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to approach the National Accountability Bureau for action against suspended managing director of the public sector Elementary Education Foundation Zulfiqar Ahmad over the alleged Rs1.94 million corruption.

A request in this respect will formally be submitted to the NAB on Monday.

The decision was shared with journalists during a news conference here on Friday, where information minister Shaukat Yousafzai, adviser to the chief minister on elementary and secondary education Ziaullah Bangash and education secretary Arshad Khan were in attendance.

The adviser and secretary claimed that the EEF MD had misused the funds allocated for the enrolment of out-of-school children across the province.

They also accused Zulfiqar Ahmad of failing to achieve the target of enrolling out-of-school children assigned by the department.

The adviser and secretary said the EEF head drew over Rs0.7 million salary every month.

Adviser Ziaullah Bangash said the EEF’s Board had suspended the managing director for inefficiency and involvement in corruption.

He claimed that the suspended MD launched negative propaganda against the education department and provided the media organisations with incorrect and misleading news items.

Mr Bangash said several initiatives were taken by the MD without seeking the mandatory approval of the EEF Board. He said the board had already ordered an inquiry against several EEF officials, including the managing directors.

The secretary said the government had allocated Rs3.2 billion for the enrolment of 225,000 out-of-school children across the province and provided the complete data, including names of over 1.8 million such children and their complete residential addresses.

He, however, said the MD failed to enrol a single out-of-school child forcing the EEF to surrender the allocated funds meant for such children to the finance department due to non-utilisation.

The secretary said despite taking Rs 0.7 million monthly salary, the EEF MD had also taken Rs1.4 million as transport allowance during the last 18 months despite zero progress on the task given to him.

He said the suspended MD had claimed the existence of ghost schools in Mansehra district, where the government supporting the education of out-of-school children under the Iqra Faroghe Taleem Voucher Scheme.

The secretary said if there were ghost schools in Mansehra, then why the MD released Rs32 million to such schools.

He said an inspection team has recommended the recovery of Rs1.94 million from the suspended MD after holding an inquiry.

A portion of the provincial inspection team’s inquiry shared with journalists revealed that Rs1.94 million was embezzled ‘having no iota of doubt’. It added that the matter should be referred to the NAB for action.

Mr Arshad said prior to the appointment of the MD, the funds used to be released by the every district level drawing and disburse officers but afterward, the MD stopped then from releasing funds and empowered an assistant in the EEF’s head office in Peshawar to release such funds showing his ‘evil design’.

When asked about the appointment of the MD against the laid-down criteria, Mr Bangash said Zulfiqar Ahmad was appointed by the previous government.

When reminded the previous government, too, was the PTI’s, he said the government had empowered the EEF board for the appointment of the EEF’s head.

The education department also shared some documents with the media persons, which showed email correspondence between the MD and EEF director (monitoring).

Through the correspondence, the MD stopped the director from visiting Mansehra, which has the highest number of students supported by the government under voucher scheme.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2019