ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked the accountability watchdog to investigate the mega corruption cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alongside the refusal of a real estate company to pay the Capital Development Agency (CDA) instalments to the tune of Rs17 billion against a leased plot auctioned by the civic agency in 2005.
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan asked National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chief Aftab Sultan to investigate the non-payment of Rs17 billion by M/s BNP (Private) Limited which recently expressed its inability to pay the outstanding instalments against the lease meant for the construction of Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Later, the construction company built high-rise residential units instead of the hotel.
After the CDA turned down the company’s offer to waive off the instalments in return for a developed plot, the construction company asked the residents of ‘One Constitution Avenue’ to pay the outstanding amount owed to the civic agency; however, the residents obtained a stay order from the Islamabad High Court.
Parliamentary body calls for investigation into ‘mega scams’ in KP
According to the PAC chairman, he had learnt that the construction company refused to pay billions of rupees to the CDA, citing a lack of funds. The company was supposed to pay CDA Rs2.9bn in 2022, but it failed to deposit the amount and offered the CDA a plot instead.
It may be mentioned that since the auction of the plot in 2005, the project ‘One Constitution Avenue’ launched by M/s BNP has been facing controversies. The CDA auctioned the 13.5 acres for Rs4.8 billion; it handed over the possession of the plot to the company after receiving only Rs800 million in the same year. By 2016-17, only Rs1.02 billion of the remaining amount was paid to the civic agency.
In 2017, the CDA cancelled the lease of the plot. But the project was de-sealed in 2021 after almost five years following a judgement by a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by then chief justice Saqib Nisar.
In line with the 2019 verdict, the developer was supposed to deposit Rs17.5 billion in instalments over eight years. The company deposited the first instalment of Rs1.7 billion and later reneged on its commitment.
Last year, when the developer came up with the proposal, asking CDA to take back a piece of commercial land from the company in return for the money it owed to the capital agency, then-member estate Naveed Ilahi forwarded the request to the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) for opinion.
After getting an opinion from the AGP office, the member estate, through a letter dated Aug 16, 2022, asked the developer to approach the top court “for disposal of the subject case as per the proposals submitted to this office for settlement of pending litigation”.
‘Probe KP cases’
The committee during its meeting also asked the NAB to investigate alleged embezzlements involving billions of rupees in the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Peshawar, Billion Trees Tsunami, Peshawar Text Book Board, and the Bank of Khyber. The committee also asked the director general of NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and investigation wings of different regions to give an update on the progress made pertaining to mega corruption scams.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2023
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