Labour minister discloses corruption in his ministry

LAHORE: Taking initiative against corruption in the government sector, Punjab Labour and Manpower Minister Ashraf Sohna confirmed irregularities of billions of rupees in the purchase of equipment for a local hospital.Addressing a press conference at his residence at Upper Mall on Monday, he said Rs 30 million extra were paid for the purchase of an angiography machine for the Nawaz Sharif Social Security Hospital.The minister declared that he would resign from his post if the allegations were not proved.Giving details of the embezzlement in his ministry, Ashraf said extraordinary high price was paid for the angiography machine. He claimed that the same private company sold the same machine to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology at a very low price.He said around 40 hangers were purchased for Rs 9 million, while $120,000 were paid in advance for the repair of the equipment for the fourth and fifth year after the expiry of a three-year contract.

He pointed out that $20,000 was spent on the training of two technicians in Japan, while training facility was available at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.The provincial minister disclosed that a collar worth Rs 500 was purchased for Rs 15,000 by the government.Highlighting another financial scam of oxygen cylinders purchased in 2007 for social security hospitals in different districts across Punjab, the minister said no action has been taken against the chief executive because he was an army officer despite the fact that he forwarded the case to Anti-Corruption Establishment several times.He said the chief minister has formed a high-powered inquiry committee to probe the incident and he would cooperate with it.Answering a question about the helplessness of provincial ministers, he said it was not their weakness but the captain of the team never supported them and always preferred bureaucrats over politicians.Replying to another question about the coalition government in the province, Ashraf said he had already suggested PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to quit the government, but he has his own political vision – Dailytimes