After taking flack from the opposition over the last few months for the country’s ongoing power crisis, the government decided to hit back on Monday when it told the National Assembly that various federal and provincial departments, along with spy agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have defaulted on electricity bills worth Rs70 billion, which it said only aggravated the predicament.
Pakistan Railways (PR) is the biggest defaulter with an outstanding amount of Rs422 million, Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar said in a written reply to a question.
The Supreme Court, the very custodian of law, has yet to pay Rs3.5 million in outstanding dues, the minister said. However, the court issued a clarification later, denying it had any outstanding dues.
With Rs49 million in unpaid bills, the Senate stands at number two on the list of defaulters, where as the chief commissioner of the federal capital owes a hefty Rs17.5 million in overdue payments.
The ISI hasn’t been paying its bills regularly either and has to pay off Rs8.2 million in dues. The reply, however, did not mention which office or department of the agency was the defaulter.
The Punjab police department has to pay power distribution companies Rs140 million for its electric bills.
Keeping pace with the all the major defaulters, the Rangers aren’t too shy about living off taxpayers’ money with its Sindh chapter defaulting on Rs75 million, while their Punjab counterpart has Rs52.25 million in unpaid dues.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has to pay Rs8.3 million, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) owes Rs2.7 million, parliamentary lodges Rs10 million, residences and offices of federal ministers Rs8.5 million and the Islamabad police Rs20 million.
Parvez Elahi issued fake urea permits, says Nisar
The NA witnessed a battle break out between the PPP and the PML-N as the two held, respectively, the Punjab government and the federal government responsible for shortage of urea in the country.
Never one to shy away from blame-game, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan went so far as to accuse Federal Minister for Industries Chaudhry Parvez Elahi of issuing “fake permits” for urea. However, he preferred not to initiate a debate on the subject when the government expressed its readiness to respond to the opposition’s queries, saying he would address the matter to the ministers concerned, who were not present during proceedings.
“Where are the ministers? What is their function except drawing salaries?” Khan inquired. “Should we approach the Supreme Court to make ensure their presence in the House?” he retorted.
Khan not only contested the figures provided by the government regarding domestic production and imported urea, he also alleged that 80% of permits issued in Gujrat by Elahi “were fake”.“I have documents and can prove it,” he asserted.
The opposition leader said he would bring up the matter on Wednesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.