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Friday May 22 2020
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Debt Inquiry Commission report blames PML-N, PPP governments for Rs1,000bn loss

Former president Asif Zardari speaks to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. Photo: file

ISLAMABAD: The PPP and the PML-N governments from the 2008-2018 period have been blamed by the Debt Inquiry Commission report of an alleged loss of Rs1,000bn to the national exchequer through various development projects, The News reported. 

A report by the Commission was submitted to Prime Minister Imran Khan into the use of Rs24,000bn loans taken by the PPP, PML-N governments. The report’s findings show that in the days to come, the opposition parties, already in hot waters, will have to face more music. 

The Commission looked into 1,000 development projects including the Orange Train, BRT Peshawar, Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project and projects of electricity and education. The top mandarins of the Economic Affairs Division, Finance Ministry and federal and provincial ministries have been held responsible for the colossal damage to the national exchequer amounting to Rs1,000 billion.

The report also highlighted that the success rate of the development schemes initiated with loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank stood at 25-30%.

 It also mentioned the role of the 13 families of top officials, bureaucrats and politicians in important ministries, including the Lahore Development Authority, who played a questionable role in the huge damage to the national kitty. The Commission has recommended the required actions against those responsible for inflicting damage on the national kitty.

The 11-member Debt Inquiry Commission headed by Deputy Chairman NAB Hussain Asghar submitted the report after 11 months. The officials from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), FBR, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Finance Ministry were part of the Inquiry Commission.

According to sources, a report into the utilisation of Rs24,000 billion loans attained both from external and internal resources during the 2008-2018 period has been submitted. The federal government had constituted the 11-member Debt Inquiry Commission with eight ToRs on June 21, 2019. The Commission was given the task to submit its report within six months.

However, the Commission headed by Hussain Asghar and its supporting staff completed the report, working even on weekly holidays apart from putting in hours beyond working schedule.

During the investigation, it was unfolded that the Date Act 2005 was brazenly violated. The previous two governments, in just 10 years, have taken loans of Rs24,000 billion owing to which total loans swelled to Rs30,840 billion in September 2018 from Rs6,690 billion. 

This exposed the country to a huge volume of loans. In the report, it has also been mentioned how the huge amounts allocated for education and health projects have been diverted to other development schemes.

 It highlighted the flagrant breaches in the K-4 project as its design and route was altered to accommodate a housing society which resulted in a massive loss of Rs30 billion. With the change in design, the project of K-4 has been made no more practicable.

It has also been highlighted that most of the construction work has been washed away in various floods. Another bitter fact came to surface as the cost of M-3 Motorway has increased by 100 percent which has been included in the investigation report. The Safe City projects of Islamabad and Lahore have also been probed. 

It has also been noted that the previous government had appointed ‘likeminded officials’ in the Economic Affairs Division which managed huge loans for development schemes but most of them were not doable. The Inquiry Commission has also pinpointed the kickbacks and misuse of authority in various development projects. The Commission has also mentioned that an estimated 100 individuals are also involved in suspicious transactions with regard to various projects.

More importantly, the Commission has also managed to get a complete record of 400 loans attained through external and internal resources. About 60 officials helped the Commission in getting the record about loans managed from various external and domestic resources. The details of loans and hundreds of projects and detailed records of individuals as well as various departments and forensic audits of government accounts have been attained from about 200 departments.

The audit reports of the Auditor General of Pakistan during 2008-2018 along with irregularities in the projects and involvement of many individuals are also part of the report. The report also mentioned the fake development schemes for which parliamentarians minted public funds in large numbers. 

The Commission also probed into BRT Peshawar and Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project. The findings in the report stated that the cost of BRT Peshawar has increased to Rs75 billion from Rs30 billion and the cost of the Neelum-Jhelum project has increased from Rs85 billion to over Rs500 billion. 

The Commission has managed to probe 25 projects of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, 85 projects of Ministry of Communication, 56 project of Ports and Shipping and Railways, 285 projects of HEC (Higher Education Commission), 78 projects of Health, 203 projects of IT Ministry, 186 projects of the Interior Ministry and 113 of the Cabinet Division.

Originally published in The News