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Commission of Inquiry formed to probe rise in debts, submit final report within 6 months

Updated June 21, 2019

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Commission of Inquiry has been formed to probe how foreign debts swelled to Rs24,000 billion in the last decade. — AP/File
Commission of Inquiry has been formed to probe how foreign debts swelled to Rs24,000 billion in the last decade. — AP/File

The government on Friday announced the terms of references (ToR) of a Commission of Inquiry announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan that was formed to probe how foreign debts swelled to Rs24,000 billion in the last decade.

According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, the commission will have to submit interim progress reports every month, and a final report within six months. The time period "may, however, be extended with the prior approval of the prime minister".

The commission, which is to be headed by the Deputy Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Hussain Asghar, will comprise 12 officials. It has been "further empowered to co-opt/engage any person from public or private sector, locally and abroad as a member, consultant or adviser for the assistance of the commission", the notification read.

The commission will:

  • Determine the significance of major infrastructure or public sector development projects undertaken between 2008 to 2018.

  • Investigate the process of awarding or implementation of contracts of development projects and whether any loans were borrowed to complete them. If a loan was borrowed, the commission will investigate where the money was spent.

  • Investigate if the "terms and conditions of any public contract were tainted or benevolent or artificially inflated to facilitate any kick-backs".

  • Investigate if any public office holders or their relatives used public funds for personal expenditures "beyond what has been permitted under the law".

  • Investigate if the limit set by the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005 was "busted".

  • Determine amendments, if any, in the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005 were in accordance with Article 166 (Borrowing by Federal Government) of the Constitution.

  • Fix responsibility and refer "any irregularity or illegality" that is uncovered during the probe to relevant departments for investigation.

The government will allocate an "appropriate budget" for the commission "to utilise and spend in its discretion so as to meet the expenditure".