–Higher Education Department says no evidence of corruption by former Punjab CM
LAHORE: A report submitted by the Higher Education Department (HED) to Punjab Assembly on Tuesday absolved the former chief minister, Shehbaz Sharif, in a case pertaining to embezzlement in the government’s laptop scheme for students.
In a written reply to a question submitted in Punjab Assembly, the HED admitted that neither any corruption could be found in laptops’ distribution, nor any of the gadgets had gone missing.
“The former government distributed 414,848 laptops on the basis of merit from 2012 to 2017,” read the reply. It further said that the allegation of involvement of politicians or bureaucrats in irregularities with regards to laptops’ distribution was also not true.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore has been conducting an inquiry since March 2018, but not a single individual was found guilty of corruption. The inquiry also included former director general of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema.
According to the government report, 110,000 laptops, purchased in the fiscal year 2011-12, cost Rs4197 million, where Rs3995 million were spent on 100,000 laptops purchased in 2012-13. It further said that Rs4949 million and Rs6954 million were spent on the purchase of laptops in 2013-14 and 2016-17, respectively.
The laptop distribution scheme aimed at the advancement of information technology among students through the provision of laptop computers. The Punjab government distributed 110,000 laptops to university students across the province allegedly to counter the rising popularity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan among the youth just one year before the 2013 general elections.
However, a special audit conducted by the government’s own wing – the Auditor General’s Office – pointed out serious corruption in the scheme.