Replicas of Toshakhana gifts come to light

PAC to investiage fraud, seeks record of auction items


Haseeb Hanif August 19, 2022
Public Accounts Committee One. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) would investigate reports about submission of replicas of gifts received by the dignitaries from foreign leaders in the Toshakhana, committee Chairman Noor Alam Khan disclosed on Thursday.

Charing a PAC meeting and later talking to media at the Parliament House, Khan said that the gifts stored in the Toshakhana were memorabilia, and these should not be displayed in Bazaars. Khan also ordered the relevant authorities to urgently submit record of Toshakhana items auctioned over the last four years.

“It is learnt that replicas were deposited in the Toshakhana and it will be investigated,” Khan told reporters after the PAC meeting. “The relevant departments are not providing documents…they are not doing their jobs. We have to stop these mafias,” he added.

During the meeting, PAC urgently sought record of items auctioned from Toshakhana in the last four years. “Whether it is a watch or a necklace that has been sold, the auditor general should provide a record of auctioned goods in the last four years,” Noor Alam Khan said.

The committee expressed its displeasure with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for not submitting the tax details of the industries in the former Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the former Provincial-Administered Tribal Areas (Pata).

FBR Chairman Asim Ahmed, who attended the meeting via a video link due to Covid-19, said he had written a letter to the committee regarding the tax exemptions granted to the industries in the former tribal areas – former Fata and Pata.

Committee member Malik Mukhtar Ahmed raised the issue of security of the FBR data. He said that the FBR was using a pirated version of computer software. “We have checked that the software of the FBR is secure,” the FBR chairman replied.

The committee directed the FBR to send tax details of companies producing oil, ghee, garments and other goods in Fata and Pata to the PAC. Khan told the FBR chairman that some of his staff did not take the committee seriously. “I am not happy today, I need all the documents in the next meeting,” he observed.

Khan told the FBR chief to provide details of Karachi and Peshawar dry port. He pointed out that $127 million was given to install scanners at Torkham, Chaman and Wagah border points, but these had still not being used yet. He also sought a written response on the matter.

During the meeting, the PAC chairman expressed his anguish at the recent hike in the prices of petroleum products. “For the love of God,” he addressed Petroleum Secretary Ali Raza Bhutta, reduce the petrol price. “Have mercy on the people.”

He also raised question about the quality of petrol being provided by the state utility, the Pakistan State Oil (PSO). He further asked the petroleum secretary to restore the gas connections immediately and review the hefty salaries of the heads and board members of the gas companies.

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