The Supreme Court on Friday objected to the doling out of discretionary funds on projects sponsored by former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf while taking note of the absence of any monitoring mechanism in transfer of such funds.
Under the Peoples Welfare Projects (PWP-II), the premier is allowed to spend up to Rs22 billion on development projects – that too through a transparent allocation process. The bench was informed that after exhausting the Rs22 billion which were at his disposal, Raja had sought a further Rs25 billion through supplementary grants.
However, the judges, hearing a suo motu notice case about the splurge of funds into Raja’s Gujjar Khan constituency, seemed most amazed when Secretary Cabinet Division Nargis Sethi informed that the previous prime ministers had been spending funds unchecked on select projects similarly for the past two decades. In this regard, former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had allocated a staggering Rs42.486 billion on chosen projects.
Sethi added that the funds were released even after Election Commission put restrictions.
But the additional secretary of finance informed the court that the total amount of funds solicited by the former premier for his preferred projects was Rs47 billion – 15 billion of which were siphoned off from other development projects such as those led by the Higher Education Commission, the Bhasha Dam project, the Lawari Tunnel project and National Saving Schemes.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, directed the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) to cease the pouring in of funds to agencies executing different development scheme under the Peoples Welfare Projects and also asked the AGPR to direct the executing agencies not to spend any more money on these projects till the Supreme Court had reached a verdict.
Taking note of information forwarded by an additional secretary from the finance department that Rs25 billion were obtained from different schemes under Public Sector Development Programme 2012-13, the bench directed the secretary planning commission to submit his reply in the court.
“You have been following illegal orders of the government despite the fact that judicial verdicts had given the bureaucracy protection. The money obtained from important development projects has been spent on the discretion of the premier,” observed the chief justice.
The bench also issued notices to Raja’s special secretary as he was responsible for initiating fund transfers on behalf of the chief executive.
The court also asked Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir to assist the court in the case about use of discretionary funds by the former premier and adjourned the hearing till April 30. In its order, the bench objected to the way prime ministers doled out funds on the wish of members of parliaments, members of provincial assemblies and notables of different areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ