Standing committee meeting: Housing officials grilled over ‘poor performance’

Some officials seemed unprepared, unable to answer questions


Riazul Haq July 08, 2015
Some officials seemed unprepared, unable to answer questions.

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly members on Wednesday grilled Ministry of Housing and Works officials over their inability to follow through on recommendations and requests delivered to them.

The NA Standing Committee on Housing and Works meeting focused on the allotments of government accommodation during the last year and the policy for future allotments.

Ministry officials seemed unprepared for the meeting, and except Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) director general, no one was able to reply to any questions.

An estate officer informed the members that 900 allotments were made to government servants during the last year.

Committee members, including the chair, Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari, expressed annoyance over the ministry’s failure to provide comprehensive data. A rough and poorly-prepared list, which was confusing for readers, was presented in the meeting.

MNA Maulana Ameer Zaman asked the ministry officials why the agenda and details of the meeting were provided just ahead of the meeting instead and not well in advance. MNA Rajab Ali Khan Baloch also criticised the purpose of the meeting, as according to him, nobody from the ministry paid heed to any of the decisions and recommendations made in the past six months meetings.

Ansari directed Housing and Works Secretary Shahrukh Arbab to get over this intransigence and update him on any scams, corruption or other irregularities discussed in previous meetings, adding that they would be part of the agenda in the next meeting.

Zaman asked the secretary who would evict Frontier Constabulary officials from 260 government houses on Sariab Road in Quetta, which have been occupied for a number of years.

To this, the secretary replied that the residences were outside the city, and due to security concerns, no one was willing to live there. An argument ensued among the members, the secretary and the joint secretary, after which the chairperson directed the secretary to reexamine the issue.

The FGEHF director general told the members that in the ministry’s meeting on June 17, it was decided that 11 constitutional bodies such as the Islamabad High Court, the Federal Shariat Court, and National Assembly Secretariat, in the prospective housing schemes. “A summary for this will be sent to the prime minister soon,” he added.

The members also brought up the dilapidated condition of the Federal Lodges and Chamba House, which they said were totally ignored by the government.

Baloch said that six months back, the ministry assured them that the lodges would be brought up to the mark. The secretary told the committee that Rs5 million had been allocated for this work and it should have been completed by the end of the year.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2015.

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