ISLAMABAD - Public Accounts Committee on Monday set up a sub-committee to review alleged misappropriations in three mega projects including Grand Hayat Hotel, New Islamabad Airport and Royal Palm Golf club and report the main body within a month.

The PAC, chaired by Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, was briefed on Royal Pal Golf and country club, Grand Hayat Hotel, Islamabad International Airport projects.

The sub-committee to review the mega projects of previous government would work under the chairmanship of senior PAC member Fakhar Imam.  The committee also reviewed the audit objections related to cases referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The auditor general of Pakistan and audit officials briefed the committee about the performance and working of different institutions. The audit officials complained that the government institutions had not made proper rules and also not following prescribed PEPRA rules in letter and spirits.

They also shared that encroachment of state land, delayed in recovery of government dues and deficient assets management were not being cared properly by relevant authorities. Even the state land had been occupied in many places. They also requested the accountability body to take steps for making AGP autonomous body.

About the recoveries affected by audit, the committee was informed that Rs160,198 million recovered in July 2017-2018, Rs70, 928 million in July 2016 to July 2017, Rs75,822 million in July 2015 to June 2016.

The PAC members threw volley of questions over the recoveries and asked to share the details of recoveries in the next meeting.

A PAC member Noor Alam asked a question that who was responsible for doing audit of Auditor General (AG). On it, the chairman commented in a light vein, “who controls the king”.

Auditor general informed the president has the authority to depute an officer to audit it. About the workload for the new PAC, he said 931 cases are pending (with 18043 pending paras). 148 grants (with 3098 pending paras) of year 2017-18 are pending , they said.

About important audit assignments, the committee was informed central power purchase authority, orange line, forensic audit of four projects of EOBI and billion tree Tsunami projects would be reviewed. Audit officials informed that the audit of Metro Bus project, Pakistan Super League, circular debt, Orange Line Train, Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Railway (E-ticketing project) has been conducted.

About the Islamabad International Airport project, audit officials said the project has 99.5 completed and cost overrun is Rs68.9 billion. The key audit findings suggest unauthorized change of joint venture was Rs7811.23million. About Royal Palm Golf Club and Grand Hayat, the committee members raised many objections. The committee also witnessed dialogue between two members of the committee (Aijaz Ahmed Shah and Rohail Asghar) over the working of the committee.

A PAC member Aijaz Ahmed Shah suggested that there was a need to make the accountability body beneficial. Rohail Asghar said that the committee could not recommend action over misappropriations and wrongdoings. About Grand Hayat project, he remarked how chairmen CDA could refuse the former president Pervez Musharaf. “Can anyone bring him back here,” he questioned.

The chairman PAC intervened and asks the members to avoid cross-talk.

Royal Palm Golf and

Country Club

Public Accounts Committee also took a briefing from the Auditor General about the financial and legal issues in the case of Royal Palm Golf and Country Club.

An official of Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) gave a presentation to the committee on the case during meeting of the Public Accounts Committee here at Parliament House. The official told the committee that in the year 2000, railways management had decided to commercialise Railway Golf Club, which was established in 1927.

Three bidders were shortlisted by an evaluation committee. M/s Maxcorp Consortium was allowed to participate in bidding after expiry of deadline for bids. Executive Committee of Railway Board approved the bid of M/s Maxcorp Cosortium on April20, 2001.

According to the original terms and conditions approved by the Executive Committee of Railway Board on April 20, 2001 the licensing fee was US $2.5 million (Rs 150 million), land usage charges Rs 21.6 million per annum with 15 percent increase every three years (Rs 52 per square yard per annum), combined royalty 10 percent of gross revenue, minimum guarantee Rs 1.8 million per annum. Land of 103 acres of Golf Club was given for lease for a period of 33 years. However on July 21, 2001 the terms and conditions were revised by the board.

The land usage charges were decreased to Rs 4 per square yard per annum, food and beverages were excluded from 10 percent gross revenue – combined royalty with no minimum guarantee. The period of lease was increased from Rs 33 years to 49 years and the area of the golf club was increased to 140 acres.

The Golf Club was got vacated on June 24, 2016 and placed in possession of REDAMCO. According to AGPR the recoverable amount from M/s Royal Palm Authorities up to May 15 2015 was Rs 2162.481 million.

A Special Committee of National Assembly investigated the matter and it concluded that the contract for the club should be terminated with recovery of all dues and losses along with interest. It directed that legal proceedings should be initiated against the members of the Executive Committee of the then Railway Board.

Issue of Royal Palm came to limelight after different audit paras were printed in Audit Report of 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2009-10.The entire issue of leasing of Railway Club was taken up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2011.