ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday to investigate the $92 million case of purchasing 175 railway coaches without ensuring fair competition, making it the eighth case of Pakistan Railways to be investigated by NAB.
Two former generals, Javed Ashraf Qazi who was then railways minister in the Musharraf cabinet and former chairman railways Saeeduz Zafar were held responsible for purchasing the coaches on the basis of single party tender.
These two generals have already been interrogated by NAB in another multi-billion-rupee scandal of Pakistan Railways Royal Golf Club in Lahore.
Headed by Nadeem Afzal Chan, the PAC directed the NAB to complete the inquiry and give a report within a month. “It will be a test for the NAB whether it could proceed against the military generals with same vigour it shows against politicians,” said Chan.
Chairman Railways Arif Azeem supported the move to refer the case to NAB for impartial investigations. These coaches were purchased from China National Machinery, Import and Export Corporation at a cost of roughly $92 million, said the Director General Audit. However, the exact amount of kickbacks, if any, was not clear.
These coaches were not fit for Pakistani platforms and railways had to reconstruct many platforms, said the auditors, suggesting underhand deals. Azeem confessed that there were certain specification problems.
Shahid Ahmad, Secretary Railways Board contested that the then management had to procure the coaches on single tender as no European and American company was ready to deal with Pakistan due to sanctions imposed after the 1999 nuclear tests. However, the PAC rejected his plea on the grounds that he was biased. Ahmad had served as Staff Officer with the then General Manager Railways Major General Hamid Hassan But.
Royal Golf Club case
The NAB official briefed the PAC that in Royal Golf Club case the party that has obtained land on lease has agreed to pay an additional Rs16 billion over the lease period of 39 years. He said the revised agreement has been mutually agreed between Pakistan Railways and the management of the Club with the NAB’s efforts. NAB will present its report to the Supreme Court within this week and seek its consent to strike the deal.
Beacon House School Case
Railways chairman informed the PAC that the management of Beacon House Schools has contacted the railways and they were ready to resolve the payment dispute. The Beacon House got 19 Pakistan Railways Schools on lease at throwaway prices. The auditors said that the Beacon House has already paid Rs58 million and Rs12.72 million were outstanding against them.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.