ISLAMABAD: With questions being raised over expenditure of the corporation’s funds, the federal capital’s local government body was rocked by allegations of massive corruption worth over Rs600 million in one of its key revenue-generating departments on Thursday.
The issue came to light during the 31st session of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) on Thursday. The session was chaired by Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz at the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre.
During the session, IMC’s Municipal Administration Department (DMA) director Zafar Iqbal gave a detailed briefing to the house about his department’s sources of income.
He said that the department generates revenue under taxes, licencing fees, auction proceeds and other fees for the five weekly bazaars in the capital, its five graveyards, birth and death certificates — for which fees are charged, regulates trade licence, manages parking sites, cattle markets, billboard advertisement, route decoration, dock tokens, hawker passes, wooden stalls, tickets, auctions including cattle, diplomatic shuttle service, Sector G-9 Markaz bus stand, Shakarparian Monument and Daman-e-Koh car parks, bridges, pole signs, billboards, panaflex, steamers, wall panels, telecom towers, BTS, Saidpur Model Village, flower markets, Melody Park, temporary permits for open spaces, kiosks, shades, small shops, Capital View Point Restaurant Pir Sowaha and related areas.
This has generated revenue in excess of Rs548. 587 million for the DMA, Iqbal said.
However, councillors dismissed the figures as ‘bogus’ and based on lies. They accused of the department indulging in corruption worth millions over the years.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Councillor Malik Rafiq alleged that there was corruption worth Rs629.6 million in the DMA— which is responsible for collecting revenue from transporter yards and stands.
Rafiq and other PTI councillors pointed out that there are as many as seven large stands of transporter hubs in the city. The annual income from each of these hubs stands at over Rs91.6 million, while around Rs645.1 million had been generated from these stands over three years.
However, councillors claimed that the DMA’s accounts only showed Rs10.5 million in collections from these hubs.
“Where did the rest of the money go?” the councillors asked.
They further asked what happened to the inquiry which was being conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) into billboards, streamers, panaflexes and signboards.
They stated that an officer of either the CDA or the IMC comes to the session and fools 50 representatives of the public. But this will go on no longer, they decided and demanded an account of every penny collected from the city.
They claimed that telecom towers dot the city and generate millions of rupees for their respective companies on a daily basis but the city government was only charging them a meagre Rs0.15 million per annum.
If this is not a joke then what is, the councillors asked.
Contending that officers of DMA — in connivance with the caretakers of these transporter hubs — had embezzled the money, they demanded an audit of the DMA’s accounts for the past three years and to immediately refer the scam to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for a probe.
On the demands of the IMC’s councillors, the mayor directed the DMA chief to present UC-wise details of revenue collected by the department within 15 days.
Earlier in the session, the house approved the minutes of the past two sessions.
Aziz said that they have finally provided secretaries for 18 union councils, noting that other UCs already had secretaries.
He further said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had approved five acres of land in Chak Shahzad for the construction of a new graveyard for the city.
The mayor said that they will be raising fees for open spaces in the capital.
He also advised that chairmen of respective union councils be taken into confidence during the open auction process.
To ensure transparency in open auctions, Aziz said that a committee comprising members of the IMC will be formed. A separate committee has been set up to ensure implementation of corporation’s rules and restoration of toll plazas.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2018.