Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani spent as much as Rs22.3 million on advertisements of the cabinet’s 100th session in December 2011, while his successor Raja Pervaiz Ashraf used Rs1.6 million on high-definition cameras for better quality snapshots.
According to budget documents, a supplementary budget of Rs22.3 million was given to the Press Information Department for spending on the advertisement of the cabinet’s 100th meeting in Karachi. The meeting chaired by Gilani got wide coverage in the electronic media, courtesy of then information minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan who broke into tears while tendering her resignation.
The documents showed that Rs1.6 million worth of still cameras of high resolution were purchased for the coverage of prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. The finance ministry willingly issued the supplementary budget to the PID, the documents showed.
The spending also highlights the weak controls of the finance ministry that released supplementary budgets to appease the rulers of the time.
After presiding the 100th meeting, Gilani had announced to form two different task forces for restructuring national assets in order to make them profitable and resolve the energy crisis— the goals that were never achieved.
To compensate the affected families as a result of the attack on Joseph Colony in Badami Bagh Lahore, the federal government paid Rs56 million, according to the documents. In March this year, more than 200 houses in Joseph Colony were attacked, looted and burnt by a mob.
The federal government had also borne an additional cost of Rs154 million incurred on loading and provision of logistic services to the law enforcement agencies, deployed for protection of the long march that the Canadian cleric Tahirul Qadri staged from Lahore to Islamabad in January this year.
The long march had paralysed Islamabad for a week. Despite signing an agreement with the then government for implementing his six demands, nothing could be achieved but the nation sustained additional spending.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Tahirul Qadri's long march ran from Lahore to Karachi.
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