SC forms body to oversee disbursement, utilisation of developer’s funds | Pakistan Today

SC forms body to oversee disbursement, utilisation of developer’s funds

ISLAMABAD: To implement Bahria Town’s Rs460 billion offer for the formal acquisition of thousands of acres of land in Malir, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday formed a high-powered commission to oversee the disbursement and utilisation of funds deposited by the real estate giant.

The apex court had in March last year accepted the developer’s offer for the lands it occupies in the Malir district of Karachi and restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from filing references against it.

The bench issued the order while approving a request by the federal government for the formation of the commission to ensure transparency in the process. The court in July had reserved its verdict on the government’s suggestion, while deciding to conduct a fresh survey to determine the actual occupation of lands in possession of the developer in Karachi.

So far, Bahria Town has deposited Rs57.4 billion with the court.

While the federal government, through an application, had sought to transfer the funds being deposited in the apex court by Bahria Town to its ‘Public Account’, the Sindh government had asked for utilising the funds for development projects it had initiated.

In its application, the federal government had said the funds being deposited by Bahria Town primarily belonged to the people of Sindh and it would be most appropriate that the amount being deposited and to be deposited by the property developer be spent exclusively for the benefit and welfare of the people of the province.

In the written order issued today, the apex court stated that the commission would be headed by a chairman and would have five voting members who permanently reside in Sindh and have no political affiliations as well as six non-voting members.

The chairman will be nominated by the chief justice of Pakistan, the order said. “All decisions of the commission relating to the selection of projects, the cost of such projects and all financial matters […] shall be subject to the approval of the implementation bench of this court,” the order read.

One person each will be nominated as a member of the commission by the Sindh governor and chief minister. The attorney general for Pakistan and the attorney general for Sindh will also be included in the body.

Meanwhile, non-voting members will include the Sindh chief secretary, finance secretary and a senior member of the provincial Board of Revenue (BoR).

Senior officers assigned to Sindh in the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan and the Accountant General of Pakistan and an officer nominated by the SBP governor will also be a part of the body’s non-voting members.

“All decisions and actions of the commission must have the concurrence of the chairman. In case of any difference or dispute, the matter shall be resolved by the implementation bench.”

The court directed the provincial government to make their nominations for the body’s voting members before December 1, adding that the commission should have its first meeting before January 25, 2021.

“The commission shall propose and suggest projects for public utility, including but not limited to health, education, infrastructure, etc, for the people of Sindh.” The implementation bench will then consider and approve the projects as well as allocate funds for this purpose, the court said.

“All projects undertaken, and being undertaken by the commission shall be subject to a regular audit in terms of standard operating procedures to be established by the commission. All audit reports shall be placed before the implementation bench.”

Once a project has been completed, it will be handed over to the provincial government for its continuance and operation, the court said.