Govt notifies constitution of inquiry commission on debt pile-up

Issues ToRs to probe into Rs24,156b increase in public debt in 10 years

Our Correspondent June 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Friday issued a notification for the constitution of an inquiry commission under Section 3 of Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017 to probe into loans taken by the governments during the last 10 years. The terms of reference (ToRs) have also been issued in this regard.

According to the notification, the commission comprises 12 members. It is headed by Hussain Asghar, a retired PSP BS-22 officer and currently serving as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) deputy chairman and comprises members from NAB, Federal Investigation Agency, Intelligence Bureau, State Bank of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, representative of Accountant General Pakistan Revenues, representative of Military Intelligence and special secretary from Finance Division as the secretary.

The commission shall be further empowered to coop/engage any person from the public and private sector, locally or abroad as a member, consultant or adviser for assistance.

The ToRs of the inquiry commission include: determination of significance of major infrastructure or public sector development work conducted from 2008 and commensurate them with the increase in public debt from Rs6,690 billion to Rs30,846 billion till September 2018.

To inquire/investigate about the award or implementation of any contract/agreement or project and whether any debt was taken for a particular project/undertaking and the same was then spent/expended on the corresponding project/undertaking, or, otherwise.

Whether the terms and conditions of any public contract entertained or benevolent or artificially inflated to facilitate any kickbacks. If so, in whose favour?

Whether any holders or public office or their spouses, children and any persons connected to them expended any public funds so as to meet personal or private expenditures, beyond what has been permitted under the law and rules.

Whether the cap prescribed under the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005 (hereafter the 2005 Act) has been busted. If so, the reasons and justifications thereof.

Whether the amendments, if any, in the 2005 Act were in keeping with the spirit of Article 166 of the Constitution, or, otherwise.

Forensic and special audits be conducted through any reputed international or local auditor or set of auditors in order to determine the real nature, scope, volume and cost.

In trail of the investments or expenditures of the federal government (or any part thereof) from February 2008 to September 2018.

To fix responsibility in respect of the above, and to refer any irregularity or illegality found for investigation and prosecution to relevant agency/department.

An appropriate budget shall be sanctioned, which the commission shall be entitled to utilise and spend in its discretion so as to meet the expenditure of the commission.

The commission shall give its final report within six months of its formation, with periodical interim reports on monthly basis.

The time limit mentioned may; however, be extended with the prior approval of the prime minister. (With additional input from APP)


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