–Lahore’s Metro Bus & Orange Line Train, Karachi’s Green Line, BRT of Peshawar to come under scanner
–Assets Recovery Unit on top agenda in PM Khan-led cabinet meeting
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet is all set to give a nod to a special audit of all mass transit systems, including those installed by the outgoing government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and it is highly likely that the task may be given to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The cabinet, scheduled to meet here at Prime Minister’s Office with Imran Khan in the chair, was likely to take up a nine-point heavy agenda on Wednesday afternoon.
Documents available with Pakistan Today suggest that the special forensic audit of all mega transport projects was aimed at determining the level of finances and subsidies involved in those projects, including Orange Line Metro Train and metro buses of Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi-Islamabad. Finance Minister Asad Umar would brief the meeting over the issue.
Interestingly, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) plans to conduct audit of Green Line Bus Rapid Transit project in Karachi and the Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which was executed by the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The Cabinet is also set to be given a detailed briefing by Barrister Shahzad Akbar, the head of Assets Recovery Unit, regarding an update on the efforts carried out to recover the assets stolen from Pakistan and kept in offshore banks and properties abroad. The Cabinet Division is dealing with the matter.
FORMATION OF ARU:
According to the documents, the Cabinet Division has recommended the establishment of an Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) at the PM Office to ensure inter-departmental coordination in achieving the desired objectives.
The document says that the legal framework provided by existing anti-graft laws would be enough to help retrieve the hidden assets abroad while the tax-related issues would be dealt by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the enforcement of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreement would make it difficult to hide assets abroad.
According to the Terms of Reference (ToRs), any government department would be bound to provide information to the ARU within seven working days of making the request.
The ARU through the law-enforcement agency (LEA) or any relevant department may seek such assistance and information including but not limited to bank accounts, records of companies, revenue records, travel record or data from the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).
It may also acquire any other information as it may deem necessary from any bank, department or agency of the federal or provincial governments or any other organisation operating within Pakistan.
The ARU has been proposed to include senior officer from the FIA, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), FBR, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), two experts from private sector with expertise of forensic accounting, anti-money laundering, international criminal laws and transnational legal systems and any other officer/agency/firm or individual if so required by the unit.
The unit may request any intelligent agency under the government of Pakistan for its assistance in obtaining any information on any subject within or outside the country.
The ARU will gather existing cases, inquiries and investigations involving unlawful assets abroad from all relevant LEAs. It may initiate legal proceedings domestically or abroad through relevant departments.
The ARU may seek help or assistance of foreign government/firms/lawyers or individuals for tracing out unlawful assets from abroad.
The ARU may refer any of the foreign assets/properties/bank accounts of Pakistani citizens or legal person with suspicion of money laundering or assets falling under suspicion as proceed of crime, to the relevant agency – NAB or the FIA – for expedient action according to law.
The unit will report on its performance to the prime minister through its chairman on fortnightly basis.
The cabinet would also approve a summary seeking abolition of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD). Secretary Cabinet Division would brief the Cabinet Meeting.
Transfer of health-related assets and setups from Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination by Ministry of Interior would also be placed before the meeting. Constitution of a Task Force to streamline the regulatory regime at implementation level would also be submitted for approval by Minister for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi.
The Cabinet would also pick one of the three nominees for appointment as Board of Investment (BoI) chairman. The cabinet would also take up another lingering issue of approval to an amendment in rule 12(I) (a) (ii) of Pakistan Navy rules 961. The Defence Division would submit the proposal.
The cabinet would also approve the pending Income Tax Amendment Ordinance in pursuance of Supreme Court’s decision in CM No 6155 of 2018 in CP No 57 of 2016 to be submitted by Revenue Division.
Ratification of the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet in its meeting held on Sep 10, 2018, would also be presented for approval. Secretary Cabinet Division would brief the cabinet over the issue.