SC seeks details of foreign-funded Sindh govt projects

Published: March 21, 2017
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KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) directed on Monday the provincial chief secretary to submit details about how many foreign-funded projects were under way in the province through the Sindh government.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, called for such details while hearing a case relating to the non-regularisation of contractual employees hired by the provincial education and population welfare departments to run foreign-funded projects in the province. Also comprising justices Maqbool Baqar and Faisal Arab, the bench was hearing the case at the SC’s Karachi Registry.

The petitioners said they were hired on a contractual basis for different projects, which the provincial education and population welfare departments had launched using foreign funds. The court was informed that following expiry of their contracts, the departments concerned were not regularising their employment, despite the fact that they were entitled to job regularisation after having served for a three-month period.

Justice Ahmed inquired from Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon about the nature of the foreign funding for the projects. “Is this a loan or something else?” Justice Ahmed asked.

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Justice Arab remarked that the directors of the projects were performing duties that government departments were supposed to exercise. He was referring to the exercise of municipal functions by the Sindh government-owned North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) to execute projects with $500 million funding from the Asian Development Bank.

During hearing of that case last week, the chief secretary had admitted that the NSUSC had failed to perform, resulting in the government’s willingness to wind-up the private company and transfer municipal functions back to the local governments.

The bench members noted with serious concerns that such projects, which were launched in the province with foreign funds, had apparently yielded positive results. Justice Ahmed observed that while projects were launched with foreign funds in 2006, they seemed useless as nothing has been done.

The bench members remarked that a system parallel to the government could not be allowed in the province. The judges told Memon and the advocate-general that they would pass an order to end such projects and order their execution by the government.

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Justice Ahmed further observed that a government department is ignored and people is appointed as a project director as a reward.

Justice Baqar noted that employees are hired on contractual basis for the projects and later are fired upon completion of the projects. “Millions of rupees are being minted,” he remarked.

The judges came down hard on the provincial top bureaucrat over the state of affairs in the province vis-á-vis projects being executed with foreign funding and financial irregularities being committed in those projects.

They asked the chief secretary to submit complete details, reflecting why the project in question was launched and what positive results were achieved from it. He was also directed to explain the ratio of foreign and local funds involved in the project. The hearing was adjourned till Friday.

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