KARACHI: A World Bank (WB) funded Sindh Skills Development Programme (SSDP) which aimed at preparing high-quality skilled workforce and promoting technical education in the province has allegedly become a victim of lack of transparency, corruption and nepotism, Pakistan Today learned on Tuesday.
The WB had provided funds worth millions of dollars to the Sindh government which in turn provided it to various universities through Boards and Universities Department (BUD) in the province. However, BUD bypassed all the rules and conditions and appointed an influential officer as its project director against the merit instead of appointing an independent and full-time candidate, insiders told the scribe.
According to sources, about 65 per cent of the implementation has already been done while the remaining tasks are related to particularly procurement of equipment and machinery for implementation of 70 programmes in 47 selected institutions across Sindh and appointment of 90 instructors.
The provincial authorities were supposed to appoint independent candidates through advertisements to call the applications to run this programme, however, officers of grade 19 and 18 have been inducted for the project that including Nazir Ahmed Channa as Project Director, Uzma Shaikh as Project Coordinator, Muhammad Yousaf Baloch as project’s financial expert.
It is recalled here that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sindh had recently arrested Muhammad Yousaf Baloch for his involvement in 1,100 illegal appointments. He is currently on bail enjoying all the perks and privileges of the project. There are many others employees of the Sindh government who are inducted into the foreign-funded project by the project director, sources stated.
Most tellingly, the Auditor General of Pakistan in its 2016-17 report also pointed out about an unjustified expenditure of Rs1.176 million on advertisements as well as the payment being made to private parties instead of making it through the Sindh government’s Information Department.
The auditors also pointed out non-appointment of independent project director stating according to Rule No 2(263)/pd/pd/2013, Government of Pakistan, Planning Commission Project Wing dated 3-11-2006 ECNEC in its meeting held on 18-2-2004 directed all the executive agencies to appoint independent project director for all the ongoing projects costing to Rs100 million.
“As per PC-1, the project amounting to Rs2,155 million was executed without appointing independent Project Director. The matter was reported to the concerned authorities however no reply was received”, the report says.
In the report, the Auditor General of Pakistan had recommended an enquiry into the matter for fixing responsibility on the persons at fault besides taking remedial measures.
Pakistan Today repeatedly tried to contact Project Director Nazir Ahmed Channa to get his point of view, however his cell phone remained unattended.