Tax secy removed, faces corruption charge

Published: July 24, 2011
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At least the current setup has shown that it is ready to take tough measures.

At least the current setup has shown that it is ready to take tough measures.

LAHORE: 

The Punjab government has posted Fawad Hassan Fawad as secretary of the Excise and Taxation Department in place of Khwaja Shumail, who faces corruption charges, The Express Tribune has learnt.

For Fawad, who only completed mandatory training for promotion to grade 20 last week (July 16), this is his fifth posting since April 2008, when the current Punjab government came to power.

Officials in the Excise and Taxation Department said that Shumail had been made an officer on special duty (OSD) because he had prevented third-party audits of the department’s projects, including the Motor Transport Management Information System project costing around Rs1 billion.

They said that there had also been irregularities in a Rs550 million deal with courier company Speedex for the delivery of vehicle registration plates. The department also established a branch in Defence Housing Authority for which it paid Rs10 million in rent for three years in advance.

The officials said that Shumail had violated the chief minister’s orders for third-party audits of all development projects.

A senior official of the Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) said Shumail had been made an OSD because he was schedule to attend a mandatory course for promotion to BS-21.

Shumail is to be replaced by the combative Fawad, a District Management Group official who is a favourite of the Punjab government.

During his recently finished senior management course at the National Management College, he was posted as secretary of the Public Prosecution Department, but refused to take up the job. Asked to comment about this at a press conference, the chief minister said: “What can I do if Fawad does not join [the department]?”

Fawad was posted secretary of the Service and General Administration Department in April 2008 as a core member of the team of bureaucrats assembled by then chief secretary Javed Mehmood. (Mehmood was removed from his post in February 2010 when his car was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run in which a retired colonel  was killed.) Fawad was replaced in November 2008 because of a dispute with senior officers and posted secretary of the Communication and Works Department. He was sent on leave in February 2009 after another dispute, this time with a powerful family from southern Punjab. He returned to the post in March 2009, but was removed again in February 2010. During his time at the department, engineers, contractors and labourers went on strike and accused the secretary of pushing through unfair suspensions.

He was later put in charge of the Health Department, in time for a strike by junior doctors for better pay. He was removed from the position in April 2011 amidst accusations that he had mismanaged the situation. He refused to take up his next assignment at the Public Prosecution Department, forcing the S&GAD to cancel the posting orders.

Officials said that Fawad was unpopular because of his aggressive style and his tendency to micromanage. They said that he believed in centralising procedures and powers, however minor.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2011.

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