Golf club membership: Ministry asked to recover £6,000 from official ZULFIQAR AHMAD

ISLAMABAD (September 01 2010): The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was stunned by the fact that an amount of 6,000 pounds sterling was paid to get golf club membership for a member of the diplomatic corps in UK. The audit paras 2007-08 revealed that this amount was spent for the commercial attaché, working at the Pakistan High Commission in Manchester.

The audit briefs pointed out that the concerned official was granted golf club membership on the special directives of the then commerce minister, Humayun Akhter Khan. No permission was given by the then Pakistan High Commissioner to UK and the three-year club (golf) membership fee, which becomes 6,000 for a period of three years, was paid in advance on the directives of the then minister.

Expressing grave indignation, the PAC directed the concerned department to recover the foreign exchange, spent on the “recreation of a blue-eyed boy of a minister.” The committee, which met here on Tuesday with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the chair, reviewed the audit reports of commerce ministry.

Riaz Fatyana said the case had not been taken up through proper channel and if the amount was not recovered, it would open a Pandora’s Box. The Commerce Secretary informed the committee that the concerned commercial attaché, Hamid, is a competent officer and the membership was obtained to strengthen relations with the business community.

He said the amount was sanctioned by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). The committee directed the ministry to recover the amount from the concerned officer, endorsing the audit objection of the department. In another audit para, the audit officials informed the committee that an expenditure of Rs 162.760 million is not in the purview of Export Development Fund but the management of the fund released the amount to different organisations under the administrative control of commerce ministry.

The committee gave one-month time to clear the audit objection. Chairman of the PAC, while expressing serious concern over the irregularities, said that rules and regulations should be followed strictly in every department – Brecorder