The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday took notice of appointments of two deputy chairmen in the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The committee acted in response to revelations of finance ministry officials, who maintained that the appointments of Tahir Ikram and Naveed Jaan were politically motivated.
PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan has given the interior ministry seven days to justify the appointments and clarify its stance.
Jaan was appointed as the Human Resources Deputy Chairman, which, a source said, was not a sanctioned post in NADRA. “NADRA’s board objected to his appointment as this was not a sanctioned post and is against the rules,” a NADRA official said on the condition of anonymity.
He added that Jaan, 35, was too young to qualify for the Grade-21 post.
Regarding Ikram’s appointment, the official said he is a senior officer who has been working in NADRA for quite some time. “But his, too, was a political appointment. He was nominated and promoted by the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid,” the official alleged.
Another source accused the Awami National Party of throwing its weight behind Jaan’s appointment.
Officials of NADRA told the PAC committee that the appointments infringe upon the rights of other senior officers who deserve promotions.
NADRA officials also told the committee that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had obtained Rs2.1 billion from the registration authority to set up an automatic fingerprint recognition system. However, no such system was set up, neither was the sum returned, he added.
The PAC has sought a reply in this regard from concerned authorities within 20 days.
To a question regarding delays in issuing passports, an official of the Directorate of Immigration and Passports told the committee that the reason for delays was non-payment of dues to the printing press.
The official maintained that the finance ministry was not releasing Rs700 million to the passport issuing authority to pay the press. This, he said, had slowed down the issuing process.
“Only 5,000 passports are published every day, whereas 1,5000 were published earlier.”
He added that 12 passport printing machines in diplomatic missions abroad were out of order. “The one in New Delhi has not been working for the past six years.”
The official said the passport authority earned the government an annual income of Rs14 billion. “By providing us Rs10 billion, our problems can be solved,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2012.