From private to public: For CM’s camp offices, budget of Rs570m

Official says utilities/maintenance of this building comes from Shehbaz’s own pocket

Our Correspondent January 13, 2017

LAHORE: Two private residences of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif were converted into camp offices due to the “security situation”. The budget for these facilities in the current year is Rs572.5 million.

This was stated by deputy secretary (welfare) to services and general administration department of the Punjab Information Commission. He revealed this information in reply to an application seeking details of the CM’s camp offices.

The DS said that 96-H, Model Town, Lahore, is the private residence of the CM and it was declared a camp office as a result of the Shehbaz’s restricted movement due to the security situation. “No expenditure on utility bills, maintenance/upkeep of the building is incurred out of the public exchequer,” he claimed.

He added 180-H, Model Town was also turned into the CM’s camp office for security reasons. He added no liability lay with government on account of the utilities/maintenance of this building.

The deputy secretary said no other private building had been declared as a camp office. “The CM bears all expenses of the camp offices, while official meetings are covered by his public office. Entertainment expenditures are incurred strictly in accordance with notified rates by the finance department,” the DS said.

“Any chief minister’s residence can be declared a camp office for official meetings to facilitate work and no approval is required from the provincial assembly,” the deputy secretary said in reply to a question of the applicant. He added an administrative decision was duly covered under Section 8 of the Punjab Minister (salaries, allowance and privileges) Act 1975.

However, the official refused to reply to a question over security and maintenance expenses of the Jati Umra residences of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He said the matter was not related to the CM office.

He added that there was an increase of 27% in the current budget of the camp offices compared to last year. He added the previous budget was at least Rs450 million and the increase for the current one was due to a rise in taxes, inflation and revision of pay scales.

He said the budget of camp offices was provided under specific heads and spent accordingly. It was also audited to verify that the spending was done within the rules. “The accounts of CM’s office for the year 2015-16 stand audited by the Punjab Director General Audit,” he said.

The government official filed these details on the application of Andleeb Abbas, a leader of PTI. In her application, she applied for information from the CM Secretariat and wrote an application to the principal secretary, but in vain. She requested the information commission issue directions to the CM office to provide the details of the budget and expenses of the CM’s camp offices.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2017.


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