Former chief secretary Javed Mehmood drew Rs3 million for utility and petrol bills during one year as officer on special duty (OSD), a euphemism for a bureaucrat suspended from service, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Mehmood served as chief secretary under the present Punjab government from March 2008 until February 2010, when he was removed after a retired colonel was killed in an accident with his staff car in Cantonment. On June 27 this year, he was transferred to the federal government and posted as planning secretary.
In March, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat issued a directive stating that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had allowed Mehmood, a BS-22 official, the same allowances for utilities as he was drawing as chief secretary. On the chief minister’s directions, the Finance Department issued a notice stating that Mehmood would continue to get the allowances till he was reassigned.
However, according to the Finance Department’s policy, OSDs in BS-20 and above can retain one staff car with driver, and get 200 litres of petrol, one newspaper subscription and 1,000 phone calls per month. OSDs are not entitled to claim and draw utility bills from the public exchequer, the policy states.
After Mehmood’s posting in the federal government, Chief Secretary Nasir Mehmood Khosa directed Implementation and Coordination Secretary Mubashar Raza to reclaim the officials, staff cars and other items assigned to his predecessor.
According to documents available with The Tribune, between February 2010 and June 2011, Mehmood cost the Punjab government Rs3 million in utility and petrol bills alone.
Two staff cars owned by the Services and General Administration Department had been in the use of his family and two motorcycles in the use of his employees. He also had two other vehicles from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat transport pool. Staff at his official residence – 2 Shannon Road, GOR-1 included four drivers, four sanitary workers and six cooks and gardeners. The house had seven telephone lines.
In the third week of August, the two S&GAD vehicles were withdrawn, the 14 servants were called back and telephone lines were disconnected. Mehmood still has a Blackberry phone owned by the Welfare Wing of the S&GAD.
An official said on the condition of anonymity that a driver for the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) named Azram Khan had been attached with Mehmood since when the latter served as director general of the LDA. Khan, he said, now serves as manager of Mehmood’s farmland and travels with six police gunmen in a double cabin van owned by the LDA.
An officer of the Provincial Civil Service accused Mehmood of double standards. “He used to pose as a champion of austerity while serving as chief secretary. He has enjoyed himself for about 15 months while making no contribution to government affairs,” he said.
Mehmood was unavailable for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2011.