Senate body shocked over expenses on maintenance work

* PWD paying Rs 2.2bn in salaries to those carrying out maintenance work worth Rs 200m

ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Upper House on Monday expressed astonishment as they came to know that for maintenance worth Rs 200 million, the government has been paying Rs 2.2 billion in the shape of salaries to the staff carrying out maintenance work.The revelations were made at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Housing and Works, held on Monday at the Parliament House, with Senator Shahi Syed in the chair.The additional secretary (expenditure) at the Ministry of Finance informed the senators that the government and the Senate Committee on Housing and Works should think over the spendings on maintenance of government offices and buildings in such an irrational method.The committee was informed that one line budget was given to the Public Works Department (PWD) for maintenance and payment to temporary employees (which were hired to only carry out maintenance). It was told that when there was an increase in salaries, the payment to the department was not paid accordingly, and, as a result, the maintenance work was badly affected, and the money was diverted to clear employees’ pay and allowances. The additional secretary also told the committee that big maintenance work was usually carried out by contractors, so there was no need to have a big fleet of temporary employees by the department. State Minister for Housing and Works Usman Ibrahim admitted that the employees were more as compared to the work, and suggested that extra staff should be relocated. In this regard, the minister said that proposals were under consideration to hand over the maintenance works to respective federal ministries, with directions to handle the matter accordingly. Supporting the minister’s point of view, the additional secretary (finance) said that if the policy was implemented, it would save a lot of government money. For the year 2014-15, the government has proposed Rs 158 million for maintenance purposes for the Pak PWD, while for the salary of temporary staff, the proposed amount stands at Rs 1,357 million.PWD Managing Director Shah Din Sheikh informed the committee that these temporary employees got their appointment letters and they were also pensionable since 1973. He said that the total number of temporary employees at the PWD was 5,702, and adding that steps were being taken to regularise the staff. PML-N Senator Zafar Ali Shah requested the minister of state to take up this matter in the cabinet meeting and find out a permanent solution to the matter.The committee members also expressed their resentment over the ‘allotment’ of government houses to “near and dear ones”. Shahi Syed claimed that he had proofs that government houses were allotted on payment. He also questioned why a proper presentation was not given to the committee over allotment of government houses to government employees.The minister of state for housing and works admitted that it was negligence on part of the ministry. However, he also told the committee that an inquiry had been launched against those involved in misuse of authority, and added that an FIR would be registered in this regard. The minister said that some corrupt official might be involved in an inferno, which is being treated as arson, in a bid to destroy the record of people who applied for government houses. However, he said that data had been computerised up to 90 percent and the remaining would be completed soon. In this regard, the minister said that a proper inquiry would be held through the FIA and the responsible persons would be booked. The minister also assured the committee that instruction had been given to the state office.On another agenda point, a Capital Development Authority (CDA) official briefed the committee on development work being carried out in sectors D12 and E12. “In D12, 95 percent of the development works has been completed, and the remaining will be completed soon. While in E12, there are some issues with landowners regarding the compensation issue.” However, he assured the committee that development work would be initiated soon in that sector.

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