ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was on Wednesday told that the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) had withheld more than 5,000 containers for the past six months.
The matter was brought to the attention of the PAC by Senator Ahmed Khan, who said that failure to clear the containers was causing distress to a lot of people.
The PAC meeting pertaining to the ministry of maritime affairs was held under the chairmanship of MNA Noor Alam Khan in the Parliament House to discuss the audit paras and examine the grants for 2019-2020.
The government responded that there was a backlog of containers at the Karachi Port and Port Qasim for the past 15 years and that the matter was being looked into, as in some cases auction took time.
The committee directed the maritime affairs secretary to provide the PAC with a list showing the correct number of containers being withheld at the two ports.
Reviewing the audit report, the members expressed displeasure over the poor governance of the former KPT chairman.
The committee requested the prime minister not to post him anywhere for allegedly committing several irregularities while awarding contracts to disqualified bidders and giving government-owned lands on lease at unimaginably low rates.
It had been revealed that the loss of more than Rs8 billion was caused by giving the KPT land to housing societies on lease at lowest rates.
The committee also decided to hold its next meetings in Gwadar and on the same day, it would travel by air to the Port Qasim Authority and KPT with the purpose to discuss their audit objections in the report on the anomalies in these departments.
Two paras were also referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for inquiries and directions were also issued to the secretary to fix responsibility on the officer(s) for violating law.
In his response, the maritime affairs secretary informed the committee that an inquiry had been ordered. However, the committee handed over the matter to NAB for investigation.
PAC chairman Noor Alam appreciated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for his unflinching support to the committee for its smooth functioning and accountability across the board.
“I must appreciate the prime minister. I met him twice and he assured full support to the committee as he never interfered in the business of the PAC because he himself had been heading the committee in the past. He is well aware with the scope and mandate of the PAC,” said Noor Alam.
The chairman also constituted four subcommittees of the PAC.
The subcommittees — each headed by MNA Wajiha Qamar, MNA Muhammad Barjees Tahir, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla and Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed — would look into the pending audit objections.
Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022