–AG suggests severe punishment for those responsible
ISLAMABAD: Auditor general (AG) has uncovered loss of more than Rs159 billion to the national exchequer due to illegal allotment of more than two thousand acres of precious land to housing societies, irregular appointments, allowances, procurement of dredgers and tugboats in contravention of PPRA rules in Port Qasim Authority (PQA).
A copy of auditor general of Pakistan’s (AGP) report available with Pakistan Today disclosed 85 paras wherein cases of fraud, misappropriations, irregularities, non-recoveries, violation of rules and regulations are unearthed. The report also uncovered loss of more than Rs159 billion to the national exchequer was due to irregular allotment of 2,425 acres of land to housing societies at a very nominal rate. Out of 2,425 acres of land, 325 acres were sold at a rate of Rs5,900,000 illegally while only 100 acres of land were allotted at Rs 60,000,000 and Rs2,500,000. This illegal allotment of precious land at Port Qasim has caused Rs149 billion loss to the exchequer besides violation of PQA Land Allotment Policy-2000.
The audit report also said that PQA has purchased 12,000 acres of land from the government of Sindh and divided the purchased land in three parts in 1980. For operation zone, 1,000 acres while 8,300 acres for eastern industrial zone were allocated. Moreover, PQA allotted/sold 2,325 acres of land without calling the tenders.
Recommending cancellation of PQA land, the commercial auditor has suggested severe punishment for all those held responsible for the said allotment/sale of land.
Sources at PQA said that PQA was mandated to allot/sell the precious land of the port to the industries related with port businesses. However, the authority sold/allotted the land to housing societies. They said that officers of PQA have illegally used children education allowance and utility allowance and in this way obtained Rs 70,000,000. PQA has caused Rs 370,000,000 loss to the exchequer due to certain changes in the master plan without the approval of the federal government.
PQA is the 2nd deep sea industrial-cum-commercial port under the administrative control of Ministry of Ports and Shipping. The port is situated in Indus River Delta region at a distance of 28 nautical miles in the south-east of Karachi. PQA is the most eco-friendly port and is geographically located on the trade route of Arabian Gulf. The port currently caters for more than 40 per cent of seaborne trade requirement of the country. It provides shore-based facilities and services to international shipping lines and other concerned agencies in the form of adequate water depth in the channel, berth/terminals, cargo handling equipment, godowns, storage and providing facilities for safe day and night transit of vessels.
AGP also pointed out that appointments of Director General Finance Asim Saleh and Manager Finance Rehan Salman was irregular and recommended to collect received amounts/salaries, allowances from the said two officers of PQA.
It is also learned that 891 employees were hired against the orders of the Supreme Court (SC) and these appointments have caused a loss of Rs1 billion and nine crores. Similarly, Rs10 billion loss to national exchequers was only due to the irregular procurement of Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger (TSHD) on lease for three years in contravention of PPRA rules. Likewise, the amount paid on account of the rent of two tugboats was equal to the price of these tugboats. The two tugboats were hired for three years at charges of $850 per day during the time former PQA chairman Agha Jan Akhtar.
As per sources, the appointment of the PQA ex-chairman was made with the support of former principal secretary to prime minister Fawad Hassan Fawad. They also said that Akhtar, while working secretary agriculture Sindh, was involved in the corruption scandal of cheap tractor scheme for the peasants. Akhtar, in connivance with a concerned, company has caused heavy loss to exchequer under head cheap tractor scheme for peasants of Sindh. Also, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Karachi is also investigating against Akhtar as he is named in LNG terminal scandal.
AGP report also detected loss of Rs359.510 million due to the hiring of tug from private party at very higher rate instead of using/purchasing its own tugs, loss of Rs109.349 million due to unjustified hiring of boat from private parties instead of using own boats, loss of Rs452.823 million due to the payment of tax duty by PQA instead of owner of the crafts, loss of Rs52.83 million due to the payment of consultancy charges on scrapped consultancy services, etc.
It is pertinent to mention that AGP has unearthed misappropriation of Rs40 million (paid as commission to financial planner/agent on the account of investment of PQA fund in NIT), loss of Rs12.193 million due to imprudent investment in private banks, non-recovery of Rs39.942 million from PSO on account of land rent maintenance charges and non-utilisation fees, loss of Rs55.44 million due to charging less rate of wharf age from QICT against the arte fixed in the gazette-tariff 2010, loss of Rs27.500 million due to non-imposing non-utilisation fees (NUF) from an edible oil refinery, loss of Rs78.219 million due to non-cancellation of auctioned commercial plots of Gulshan-e-Benazir Town Ship Scheme of PQA, loss of Rs88.227 million due to irregular capping of tariff (port dues and pilotage fees) of ships, etc.