The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday cleared an audit objection to the import of 42 luxury vehicles worth nearly $1.5 million by the Pakistan Navy, without the approval of the prime minister.
The auditor general of Pakistan’s report pointed out that in 2011 the Navy imported 42 luxury vehicles — 40 Land Cruisers and two BMW sedans — without the mandatory approval of the PM, while there was a ban on the import of such vehicles.
During the scrutiny of the Ministry of Defence Production’s audit report for the year 2013-2014, the PAC was informed that the Cabinet Division had banned the import of luxury vehicles in 2007.
According to the audit report, only the PM had the authority to give a relaxation on the import of such banned luxury vehicles, adding that these were imported with the approval of the services chief concerned.
The report claimed that the Cabinet Division banned the import of luxury vehicles under austerity measures.
However, the Navy procurement director informed the PAC that the import of turbo-charged vehicles was banned when these were imported, adding that the Cabinet Division had later lifted the ban.
Convinced by the response of navy officials, PAC chairman Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah settled the audit para.
The PAC was also told that the management of the Karachi Shipyard awarded a project worth Rs16.3 million to the second-lowest bidder, whereas under the law, the lowest bidder was entitled to the project.
The Karachi Shipyard managing director, responding to the audit objection, said that since the second-lowest bidder offered a Rs9.1 million discount, therefore, the management preferred him over the lowest bidder.
PAC member Sheikh Rashid Ahmed remarked that it was not standard practice to offer a discount separately, since companies were required to make a decision at the time of bidding.
When the PAC chairman hinted that he wanted to settle the audit para, audit officials did not recommend settlement. They were of the view that since there was a serious violation of the procurement-related rules, the committee may direct the principal accounting officer (PAO) to look into the matter.
But Mr Shah hand snubbed the audit officials, saying there was complete silence over gross irregularities and billions of rupees in corruption in the contracts of the new Islamabad airport. “Why do you people only speak against these irregularities?” he asked, before settling the para.