Punjab chief secy tells SC, Saaf Pani project has not begun despite Rs4bn being already spent
- Apex court rules same scale companies’ officers to get same salaries as government officials
LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar remarked on Sunday that as long as the present judiciary is here, nepotism and corruption will not be allowed in the country.
The CJP made these remarks while hearing cases related to public welfare issues, including the Saaf Pani Company and recruitment at 56 public organisation cases, at the Lahore Registry.
The two-member bench, headed by the CJP and includes Justice Ijazul Ahsan, heard the Punjab Saaf Pani Company case.
Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed appeared before the bench.
During the proceedings, the chief justice observed that everyone will be held accountable and every penny of the national exchequer will be returned to the national kitty.
Chief Justice Nisar, referring to the hiring of individuals from the private sector as well as foreign experts in the public organization, remarked that those who made these hiring will have to return the money from their own pocket.
The court ruled that all the companies’ officers will get the same salaries as government officials at the same scale.
The chief secretary said that “citizens did not get a drop of water despite spending of Rs4 billion on the project” and added that instead of improving, the performance of the company came down.
Questioning the inclusion of provincial minister Zaeem Qadri’s brother and wife in the company’s board of directors, Chief Justice Nisar remarked, “So much was spent on public advertisements but nothing was done on the ground.”
The company’s former CEO Waseem Ajmal appeared before the apex court and said that the Punjab chief minister directed the replacement of local experts with foreigners.
“The provincial chief executive was not even legally permitted to give directions to the company,” he added.
The court has summoned the National Accountability Bureau’s prosecutor general on April 14 to look into the case.
SAAF PANI COMPANY CASE:
The CJP, while taking notice of the case on Saturday, had given a day to the Punjab Saaf Pani Company chief executive officer (CEO) and the provincial government to submit the complete record, including salaries, perks and privileges of the entire staff and vehicles provided to them to perform their duties.
Expressing serious concern over the exorbitant salary and benefits packages of the company’s officials and the money being paid to foreign consultants for water projects, the chief justice had asked CEO Muhammad Usman if there was no one eligible enough in the country that the company had to hire foreign consultants for the provision of water.
Punjab Advocate General Shakilur Rehman Khan had requested the bench for time for preparing detailed and comprehensive reports on the company and its performance.
The chief justice had asked the CEO about his salary, to which he said that he was getting Rs1.4 million per month including all perks and privileges.
Questioning the non-utilisation of government officers for the post, the chief justice had wondered why taxpayers’ money is being wasted.