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PAC inquiry into NLC scam to go ahead

ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, says he will go ahead with his committee’s probe into affairs of the National Logistics Cell (NLC) despite army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s decision to conduct a separate inquiry into the matter.

nisar pakistan newsTalking to Dawn, Chaudhry Nisar said: “We have no problem if the GHQ carries out its own inquiry, but that can’t marginalise the inquiry being carried out by the PAC of the National Assembly that is the highest forum of the land as far as parliamentary accountability is concerned.

“The committee is going to place facts on the table on Dec 10 and 11 as I promised and will come up with our recommendations.”

Corruption in the NLC is an important issue because billions of rupees had gone down the drain, Mr Nisar said. Answering a question, the Leader of Opposition said the committee had gone through different inquiry reports conducted at three forums.

“Now we are very clear of this whole issue. It is as transparent as sunlight. The committee is going to take a decision based on facts and the facts are there in black and white.”

About the PAC having taken a bit more time in coming to a conclusion, he said that since three inquiries had been conducted one after another the committee decided first to go through their reports before making its final recommendations.

The first inquiry was carried out on the directive of the PAC by the Planning Commission. While the PAC was discussing the PC’s report, the committee came to know that a consultant has been hired by the new management of the NLC to prepare a fresh report on the issue. Initially, the consultant’s report was not presented before the committee. However, with some effort “we did manage that”, he said.

After going through these two reports, when the committee was about to make its final recommendations, it came to know that a chartered accountancy firm of the country had also done a report on the NLC which related not only to one particular scam, but the whole lot of scams committed under one director general of NLC. Then the committee asked for the third report of which its members were not aware and decided to make final recommendations after going through the three reports.

Now the question is what made the army’s top brass to conduct a new inquiry when the PAC was seized with the issue for well over two years and that had been intensely discussed in the media.

The NLC is a subsidiary of the planning commission and its sitting secretary appears before the PAC as principal accounting officer for mandatory settlement of its accounts.

When asked whether the army chief could order such an inquiry, Planning Commission Secretary Ashraf Hayat said: “According to my understanding it is a follow-up of earlier inquires, but it can best be explained by them (army people).”

Despite repeated attempts, ISPR Director General Maj-Gen Athar Abbas could not be contacted for his comments.

According to facts presented before the PAC in its various meetings, during 2004-2008 the top administration of the NLC heavily invested in the stock exchange in complete violation of government rules. They not only borrowed money from commercial banks on high mark-up rates, but also spent pensioners’ money on the business.

In return, heavy commissions were received from companies though the money had been invested in the market.

In the process they invested well over Rs4 billion in stock exchange and suffered a loss of nearly Rs1.8 billion.

According to the present NLC Director General, Major General Junaid Rehmat, the body was paying Rs2.7 million a day on account of mark-up on loans illegally obtained for investing in the stock market.

According to the inquiry reports, five ex-employees of the NLC — three retired generals and two civil servants — have been declared responsible for the losses incurred during 2004-2008.

These employees are: two retired Lt-Generals, Khalid Munir Khan and Mohammad Afzal Muzzafar, who served as officers in-charge in the NLC from January 2005 to June 2005 and from June 2005 to October 2008, respectively; Director-General of NLC Maj-Gen (retd) Khalid Zaheer Akhtar (July 2002 to January 2008), Director Finance and Accounts Najibur Rehman (October 2002 to April 2007) and Chief Finance Officer Saeedur Rehman (June 2004 to October 2008). Mr Saeedur Rehman is at present serving as member finance with the CDA.

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