Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has promoted his family friend Buland Akhtar Rana to grade-22 so that he may qualify for appointment as the auditor-general of Pakistan.
Former auditor-general Tanvir Ali Agha had recently resigned amid a controversy on whether he can continue to hold office for another four months. President Asif Ali Zardari appointed Aneece Marghub as acting auditor-general.
A high-powered promotion board approved Rana’s promotion, who also hails from Multan. Gilani chaired the meeting at the PM house which also approved promotions for seven other senior bureaucrats.
Officials familiar with the development told The Express Tribune that the government is all set to appoint Rana as the new auditor-general. He was serving as the acting secretary of the Human Rights Division and until last year, he worked as the deputy auditor-general as well. “There was a legal bar on Rana, so he had to be first promoted to grade 22 to qualify for the post,” said a senior official of the establishment division, on condition of anonymity. He has faced serious allegations of sexual harassment, court proceedings as well as departmental inquiries, the source said.
Officials working with Rana said that he is affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party and is a close friend of Ghulam Mujtaba Gilani, the prime minister’s younger brother. They said that the president’s decision to appoint an interim auditor-general kicked off the race for the lucrative post. The three candidates competing for the prestigious post, including Rana, are former establishment secretary Abdul Rauf Chaudhry and Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue Salman Siddique. Officials also said that Zahid Saeed, the military accountant-general, coveted the post of the auditor-general. He did his best to manoeuvre for the appointment and to defame Rana when both were working as deputy auditors-general last year, they said. Rana is now eligible for this post because he is the senior officer in the audit department, according to sources.
Controversy over Agha’s premature departure
Officials said that Agha was forced to leave office prematurely due to multiple factors. These factors include upcoming audit reports on multi-billion-rupee scams namely the National Insurance Company Limited scandal, the Hajj scandal and the auditor-general’s liaison with the Public Accounts Committee that embarrassed the government on many occasions.
Agha was sworn in as the 16th auditor-general for five years on July 20, 2007. According to the Constitution, he could remain in office for five years or until he attained 65 years of age. His five-year term would have ended in July 2012 but on November 14 this year he will turn 65.
Meanwhile, Saeed has denied that he was manoeuvring for the slot. “I’m no longer with the auditor-general, so how can I covet the slot?” he said.
A senior official, who attended Tuesday’s board meeting revealed that Rana’s posting has been recommended by the PM. This summary will be moved to the finance ministry, which is supposed to send it to the president who will act on the advice of the prime minister, he said.
The PM’s press secretary Muhammad Akram Shaheedi has neither confirmed nor denied the recent development saying, “Rana was promoted to grade-22 but no further notification has been issued so far for further posting.” To a query pertaining to Rana’s posting as the auditor-general, he said there is speculation but no official order has been issued.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.