Despite a court ruling declaring development schemes initiated by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf void, bureaucrats have kept the former premier’s pet road projects alive and have allocated funds for their construction in the next development budget.
Sources in the Planning Commission (PC) have revealed that Rs40 million each has been allocated for two road projects in Ashraf’s hometown Gujjar Khan and Chakwal district. According to them, the commission initially planned to allocate Rs140 million each for the two projects. However, the allocation was later reduced, with plans for providing additional funds as the need arose.
The sources maintained that the move was aimed at creating a head for the schemes under next year’s Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The total cost of the two projects is Rs9.576 billion. The proposed development budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is Rs450 billion.
The schemes, approved by Ashraf for his constituency during his tenure as prime minister, had been held up by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as an example of ‘naked corruption’ and were declared illegal. The IHC termed the move to award the contracts to the National Logistics Cell a ‘glaring example of discrimination, favouritism, nepotism and ulterior motives to advance a personal agenda’. An IHC division bench also rejected Ashraf’s appeal against the ruling.
PC officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that the court had not restrained them from allocating funds for the projects. Rather, they said, the IHC ruled that the process be made more transparent