PAC asks AGP for Broadsheet probe report

Published January 20, 2021
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday asked Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Javed Jahangir to probe the Broadsheet affair. — Photo courtesy AG website/File
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday asked Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Javed Jahangir to probe the Broadsheet affair. — Photo courtesy AG website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday asked Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Javed Jahangir to probe the Broadsheet affair and submit a report within 10 days.

PAC chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain said that the amount paid to the foreign company may be recovered from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) if the report held the bureau responsible.

Recently, the Pakistan government paid $28 million to Broadsheet company after the latter secured the verdict from the UK’s High Court.

The Broadsheet company claimed multi-million dollars from Pakistan for identifying offshore assets of Pakistani citizens to NAB under an Assets Recovery Agreement (ARA).

In 2000, the British company was hired by NAB under Gen Musharraf’s government to track down Pakistanis’ ill-gotten wealth stashed overseas and the contract had been terminated in 2004.

Chairman says money should be recovered from NAB if it is found guilty

The PAC members were also of the view that the amount should be recovered from NAB to set a a precedent for the anti-corruption watchdog which they said was only targeting opposition leaders in its anti-graft drive.

When a member termed it another foreign funding case, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed quipped that it was ‘funding foreign case’ as a heavy amount had been paid to a British company.

Earlier on Jan 14, the PAC had sought a report from the AGP on Broadsheet.

AGP Javed Jahangir informed the committee that NAB in response to his letter had agreed to provide the record by Jan 20. He, however, sought at least 10 days to conclude the probe into the matter.

Member of the committee Syed Naveed Qamar reminded him that there was a lot of speculations about the case and, therefore, the PAC wanted to inform the masses about facts.

He said the auditors should not treat the matter as a routine work, but make it their top priority.

AGP Jahangir said that since the deal had been signed with the UK-based company, auditors needed to get relevant material from the Pakistani High Commission in London and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well.

The PAC chairman said the issue had hit the political atmosphere in the country and “we need to fix the responsibility on officials responsible for the deal”.

The committee also examined the audit paras of the National Highways Authority (NHA).

It expressed displeasure over the excessive toll plazas set up along different sections of the Motorways.

Hina Rabbani Khar suggested that instead of collecting toll tax at different sections, the commuter may be charged the total amount at the last exit.

NHA chairman retired Capt Sikander Qayyum said that since the contract for the collection of toll tax had been awarded to more than one companies for different sections, the companies had established collection points at the entrance of their respective sections.

He, however, said that efforts had been made to upgrade the system, but as a makeshift arrangement, additional lanes were being established at the toll plazas.

PAC member Raja Riaz of Pakistan Thereek-i-Insaf requested the PAC chairman to restrain NHA from collecting toll tax at Pindi Bhattian.

Mr Hussain asked Mr Riaz to take up the matter with Communications Minister Murad Saeed, but Mr Riaz said that Mr Saeed never listened to him.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2021

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