Allotment of two plots against constitution: PAC
13 December, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday expressed serious reservations over allotment of two plots to top bureaucrats and termed it "discriminatory and flawed".
However, the committee could not order cancellation of the second plots due to division within its ranks. After a briefing on the allotment of plots to the federal government's employees, PAC was of the view that the policy was in contradiction to the constitution that promises equal rights to all citizens.
The committee was informed that in July 2006, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz had approved the policy of giving second plot to all grade 22 bureaucrats along with 20 percent special pay and a servant after retirement. The special scheme was in addition to the ongoing scheme launched by Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation in 1989. The judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan were not entitled for the second plots but on January 11, 2008 the original summary was amended and the judges were allowed to get second plot, said director general of the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation, Mian Talat in his presentation.
So far, the federal government has allotted second plots of 505 square meters to each 123 bureaucrats at meagre price of Rs 2.7 million per plot, said Talat, adding that another 63 Grade-22 officers are on waiting list due to non availability of land. Under the policy if a bureaucrat has already got more than one plot he could not avail the special window.
However, PAC observed the Housing Foundation gave plots without verifying the claims of the applicants.
The DG Housing Foundation admitted that the provinces have not provided the details of the plots so far allotted to the federal government employees. The DG further conceded that some bureaucrats also submitted wrong affidavits. The PAC asked the Housing ministry to submit fresh list of beneficiaries including details of plots that these bureaucrats have obtained while serving in provinces.
The committee wanted to cancel the second plots but the members have divergent views. PPP lawmaker Yasmeen Rehman suggested that both the second plot and the special allowance be withdrawn from grade 22 officers. Riaz Fatiana of PML-Q said the policy of giving plots after retirement was wrong and the government should give apartments to all the federal employees and recover the cost from their salaries. Some of the members were of the view that it would be difficult to take back the plots from those who have already obtained.
The committee also observed that former premier Benazir Bhutto's 1995 decision to give plots to 481 officials was also in violation of the laid-down criteria. These plots had been allotted in sectors D 12, E-12, I-8 and G-11 of Islamabad.
While defending PM Aziz's decision, Secretary Housing Kamran Lashari said the package was aimed at recognizing meritorious services of the Grade-22 officers. However, the committee did not accept the argument
while saying those who work at low positions are also entitled to the similar facilities and in many cases even work harder than the federal secretaries. PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal hinted at giving recommendations on the allotment policy which will benefit both the top bureaucrats and so far neglected employees. He also took an exception to the meddling by the prime minister's principal secretary in the matter of allotment of plots. Despite the fact the matter was under the consideration of the PAC the principal secretary to PM has summoned the chairman Capital Development Authority and directed him to create space for giving second plots to bureaucrats, he maintained.
He said though the premier has assured him to implement PAC's recommendation on dual plot policy, in case the government does not honour the commitment PAC will go to the Supreme Court.