Monday, September 1, 2008

PAKISTAN SCANDAL: UNDP involved in channeling CASH to military and para-military groups in fake "reconstruction payments"

By Muhammad Bilal

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday informed the National Assembly that the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) hired 54 consultants including retired military personnel during the last five years, and they were paid Rs 99.615 million.

Law Minister Farooq Naik told the House that 54 consultants and associate consultants were hired from July 2003 to June 2008 by the NRB and were paid by the government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Brig (r) Muhammad Saleem, the focal adviser on the local government system, was the highest beneficiary receiving emoluments worth Rs 10.941 million from the UNDP.

Raja Asad of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz called the NRB a white elephant and demanded the government hold the consultants accountable.

Speaker Fehmida Mirza disputed the figures provided by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat regarding the disbursement of Rs 14 billion meant for the rehabilitation of the flood affectees of Sindh and Balochistan.

Mirza said the flood-affected people of Sindh, especially those in her constituency, were still awaiting the government’s help. She referred the issue to the standing committee.

Finance Minister Naveed Qamar informed the NA that the government could not increase the subsidy on electricity. He said the NEPRA had recommended a 63 percent increase in electricity tariff but the government would not raise the tariff by that much. However, he said the increase in tariff was imminent.

Qamar said the government would provide relief to consumers once petroleum prices in the international market came down further.

Parliamentary Secretary on Interior Mujtaba Ahmed Kharal told the House that no proposal was under consideration to withdraw the Rangers deployed in Karachi.

He said 1,573 Rangers were deployed in Karachi, adding that an amount of Rs 9,232,511 was being paid to the troops per month as part of the internal security duty allowance besides usual pay and allowances.

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