Federal cabinet will decide on refunding New City depositors
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed that the federal cabinet would take a decision on the issue of refunding money deposited by people for the New City Project in Islamabad. Federal Minister for Housing and Works Syed Safwanullah told the House that the housing ministry had prepared a summary of the issue, which would be submitted to the federal cabinet for discussion.
Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain, Anwer Ali Cheema, Ghulam Rasool Sahi and Bushra Rehman from the treasury and Rana Asif Tauseef (PML-N) had raised the issue through an Attention Notice which asked the National Housing Authority (NHA) to refund the deposited amount.
The Minister informed the house that Rs 275 million were deposited by people and Rs 209 million were deposited by State Life Insurance Corporation for the project in 1995-96. “The project was publicised by using the government insignia and the name of co-sponsor Capital Development Authority (CDA),” Mr Safwanullah said. “However, no construction had taken place on the ground for the project and the relevant documents of the project are not available.”
He said that the affected parties approached federal ombudsman who decided that the plots should either be allotted or the people’s money be refunded. The refund was blocked when the FIA and the NAB got involved in the investigation process, he said.
“The law ministry has now advised the housing ministry to make necessary arrangements for refunding the money on the ground that the government insignia was used to attract deposits,” said Mr Safwanullah.
“Under the direction of the law ministry, we have prepared a summary for the cabinet and I have also written a letter to the finance minister so that the people can get their money back.”
Mr Safwanullah did not specify the exact time frame whereby the summary would be moved but Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain said that the process would “hopefully” be completed within two or three months.
Brig (r) Zulfikar Dhillon alleged that the money ‘looted’ through the New City Project was used to purchase the Surre Palace. The Parliamentary Secretary for Food and Agriculture, Rajab Ali Baloch, wanted to raise the issue of the NAB press release that alleged that Asif Ali Zardari had accepted owning the Surre Palace. However, the speaker did not allow him to speak.