–Shehbaz rubbishes objections raised by Sardar Nasrullah Dareshk on former chairing Thursday’s meeting
ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has unearthed embezzlement of Rs68 billion in the construction of the New Islamabad Airport project and found seven Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials responsible in addition to the construction consultants.
In a meeting of the PAC chaired by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif to review audit reports of the CAA, it was revealed that the project that was to be completed with an estimated cost of Rs37 billion was completed by spending a staggering Rs105 billion.
The PAC chairman and members questioned the head of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA). Upon finding clear contradictions in the stances held by both institutions, Shehbaz said that the matter was pertaining to the money of the people and could not just be brushed under the carpet.
He then ordered the sub-committee headed by Syed Fakhar Imam to submit a detailed report on the irregularities in the construction of the new airport to the main committee at the earliest.
Presenting the authority’s report, FIA Director General (DG) Bashir Memon maintained that the delay in the project completion amounted to cost run-overs that resulted in the increase in overall cost of the project.
“The project was to be completed by 2010,” he said and blamed seven officials of the CAA in addition to the hired construction consultants which included the blacklisted American company, Louis Berger.
FIA officials also said that the agency in July 2014 had submitted a report recommending criminal cases against the CAA officials.
Meanwhile, CAA said that engineers were responsible for the delay. The authority named Musharraf Khan, Rizwan Ahmed and Vikram Singh as the prime suspects of the delay as well as the resultant increase in project cost.
Reacting to a letter written by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Sardar Nasrullah Dareshk, the PAC chairman said he was never summoned by the FIA in any case.
Dareshak had written to the PAC chairman stating he should not chair the meeting held Thursday wherein an FIA briefing was due while the authority had initiated a probe into the Multan Metro and Lahore Orange Line Train projects launched during Shehbaz’s tenure as the Punjab chief minister.
The PAC chairman further said that Dareshak had probably made the assumptions because whenever a question regarding a sector relevant to anyone is brought up, he or she starts getting defensive.