The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has constituted a committee to probe the allegations of misuse of authority by the managing director of the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak), and recommended to the prime minister to block the promotion of another senior bureaucrat for his lax attitude.
The committee would include officials of the National Accountability Bureau, Establishment Division, Ministry of Water and Power and the Auditor General of Pakistan. The committee’s mandate is to probe alleged out-of-turn promotions to the positions of vice presidents by the MD, promotions to next scales and the appointment of the MD Nespak himself. The committee will give its report in next 15 days.
Yasmeen Rehman, the acting chairperson of the PAC, observed that if the committee’s findings confirmed the allegations, the MD’s case will be referred to NAB for formal investigations.
Asad Khan was appointed as the Nespak MD in April 2008 by then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, on the recommendation of then water and power minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. Khan has already managed to secure an extension in his tenure.
The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) had objected to the appointment of Khan, and had raised the issue with Gilani in 2010. The PEC had been against the appointment as Khan, who is an architect by profession, and does not have a strong engineering background.
The MD allegedly promoted his favoured personnel through a board of management (BoM) constituted by him. He also invited PAC’s wrath for challenging the authority of the most powerful body of parliament. He claimed that Nespak was an independent organisation and the official rules did not apply to it.
Neither the PAC nor Nespak can decide whether the body was autonomous as these powers rest with the Supreme Court, said Khan.
However, the PAC rejected his plea and reminded him about various constitutional clauses that make all government-owned or funded departments accountable to the PAC.
Amjad Ali—a senior Nespak official and complainant against the MD—told the PAC that Asad Khan while compromising the laid down procedures and rules, changed the seniority list by placing two people ahead of him who were working abroad on deputation.
In another meeting of the PAC—convened to review audit objections against ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), referred the case of MB Awan—a grade 21 official and officiating secretary of the ministry, to the prime minister for blocking his promotion and initiating disciplinary action.
Awan came unprepared in the meeting and took the PAC proceedings lightly. He also admitted in his candid style that various departments, placed under the IPC ministry after the devolution process, were not paying any respect to the ministry. Awan said these sinking departments are temporarily placed under the IPC ministry as many of these have to be devolved to the provinces.
He took a plea that the heads of these departments were not listening to the IPC Ministry; thus, he was not able to give any response to the PAC over the audit objection.
While discussing the affairs of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation—an attached department of the IPC ministry, Awan said the MD PTDC had instructed his officials not to communicate with the IPC, which is the administrative ministry.
The PAC observed that if the head of any department was not listening to the IPC ministry, why was the ministry not moving a case to the prime minister for removal of defiant officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2012.
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