Palatial mansions of a poor nation’s rulers

Gilani's official residence cost taxpayers Rs74 million in last 30 months, in the name of 'renovation'.

Express November 04, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s palatial official residence and his majestic secretariat have cost taxpayers Rs74million in the last 30 months in the name of ‘renovation’, reveal official documents tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi also came under fire from all sides of the lower house of the parliament for what many lawmakers called massive corruption and mismanagement in his ministry’s affairs and Haj operations.

As if the grilling of the minister was not enough to shake him, a legislator disclosed on the floor of the house that a Saudi prince has written a letter to the chief justice of Pakistan to take action against Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Ministry on charges of corruption in the Hajj operations and hiring of buildings in two holy cities.

The National Assembly was also informed during the question hour that in the last three years, the ministry of industries and production-controlled Utility Store Corporation had appointed more than 10,000 people across the country at its outlets.

Majority of these people were appointed during the tenure of Mian Manzoor Watoo, before he was shifted by Premier Gilani to the Ministry for Kashmir Affairs, following increasing complaints against him.

Meanwhile, two separate official figures about the cost of the Prime Minister’s House and the PM Secretariat were given in the National Assembly by Minister for Housing and Works Rehmatullah Kakar.  It was revealed that the PM House had cost more than double the money spent on the PM Secretariat in the name of their renovation.

Kakar told the House in writing that in the last 30 months, Rs50.3million was spent on the PM House. According to the official breakup, Rs6.6million was spent on physical assets, Rs6.5million on minor works, Rs37.1million on repairs, maintenance material and work by contract. However, no detail of the work done at the PM House was given in the official documents.

He said another Rs23.858 million was spent on the renovation of the PM secretariat. A sum of Rs1.6million was spent on physical assets, Rs2.6million on minor works and Rs19.574million on repairs and maintenance.

Earlier, the NA witnessed rowdy scenes when Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi came under fire for an alleged scam in his ministry. Lawmakers, mostly from opposition benches, criticised his ministry for failing to protect the interests of intending Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. It was pointed out that buildings were rented for the pilgrims about 3.5 kilometres away from the Ka’aba, making it difficult for pilgrims to pray five times a day in the holy Ka’aba. The members also leveled serious corruption charges against the religious affairs ministry and its top guns.

Kazmi confirmed that buildings were hired away from the Ka’aba, but added that the director general Haj Jeddah has been suspended on corruption charges and summoned back to Pakistan.  The minister made an interesting comment when he found himself besieged from all sides in the house. “The members need to understand that it is not the first time that hajj arrangements are being criticised. Such lapses had been reported in the past and will continue to be reported in the future too,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2010.


ImranS | 11 years ago | Reply All, dont we need to put this in perspective. I know that the condition prior to renovation wouldnt have been very bad, and something really termed as 'renovation' would probably not have been required. Still, we are talking about Rs 7.4 Crore over 30 months. That is less than $1 million on doing up public properties described as "majestic" and "palatial" (i.e much larger than your typical house). It is really not that much money. If people who read this work in contracting or just know some of the rich homeowners in Karachi, you will realize how non-lavish this amount is given the scale of the properties. In numbers: 2010 federal budget -->Rs 2,764,000,000,000 Spend on properties (over 30 months) Rs 74,000,000 Percentage (assuming annual; over 2.5 years it would be even lower) --> 0.0027% Could they have spent it on something else, something social or developmental, yeah sure they could have. But is it unreasonable or a burden or a game changer? no it is not. If reporters want to catch these guys out for something, then they should be pushing the income tax angle more aggressively. They pay nothing although they are personally rolling in money through private businesses or holdings. Im surprised that no one has commented about the corruption at the 'religous affairs" ministry, that is surely more noteworthy as it does affect pilgrims and people more directly than renovation of an official residence.
Klues | 11 years ago | Reply Nice comment @ Adeel Ahmed.
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