By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The regional public accounts committee (PAC) has detected irregularities in the money spent by a former governor of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
The findings had been shared with members of the PAC chaired by Sikandar Ali on Friday.
During the meeting, parliamentarians discussed audit paras for the year 2012-14. They noted that the then G-B governor Pir Karam Shah had spent substantial public money to maintain his vehicles, pay for the fuel and rent.
“As the record was scrutinised, we noticed that the former governor had misused his powers,” an insider said on Saturday. “The powers were misused in the shape of money.”
According to the audit, Shah spent Rs1.5 million pf public money on the maintenance of his vehicles between 2012-14.
Similarly, the governor spent Rs17 million on fuel and transportation in 2014-15. On account of stationery, Shah spent Rs24 million during 2013-14.
The PAC also noticed that the governor had received huge sums of money as rent for a governor office in Islamabad. This money, the committee noted, was provided without any tax deductions.
In view of this, the PAC decided to seek the legal opinion of the law department on certain matters with regard to the powers of the governor to spend public money and procedure for returning it.
“After seeking legal opinion, we will decide what method should be used to ensure that the governor returns the money.”
Ali, who is from the opposition Islami Tehreek Pakistan, stressed the need to fix loopholes in the law to ensure that powers are not misused by future governors.
“These expenditures are beyond the powers of the governor enshrined in the region’s governance order,” the chairman was quoted as saying as audit details were shared with members of the committee.
The alleged irregularities committed by the governor came to the fore nearly a month after former chief minister Mehdi Shah was also found misusing his powers to misappropriate Rs8 million under various expenditures including paying for his house in Skardu.
Karam Shah, a resident of the Ghizer valley, had been appointed as governor of G-B in January 2011 during the tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
He was replaced by Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Barjees Tahir in February 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2017.