Governor opened flood relief account in private capacity
By: Zulqernain Tahir
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa and his two ‘advisers’ got an account opened in a private bank in their ‘private capacity’ to collect donations for the flood-affected people of Sindh.
The account, titled ‘Governor Punjab Flood Relief Fund 2011’, was opened with three signatories — Latif Khosa, Zahid Bashir and Farooq Arshad. No official of the Governor’s Secretariat was included in the process in a deviation from practice.
Governor Khosa said the step had been taken to avoid procedural hiccups that might have hindered immediate provision of funds for supply of relief goods to the affected people. Official sources said the fund was opened in October last year and closed in February.
Millions of rupees were raised and medicines and other relief goods bought to be handed over to the affected people.
The sources alleged that Farooq Arshad, who was on the forefront in collection of the funds, had arranged the medicines from a company of his choice in what they called a ‘dubious way’. Since there had been no official check on the spending, irregularities were alleged.
Interestingly, the Governor’s Secretariat has not yet issued a notification of appointment of Mr Arshad as an adviser to the governor.
According to the rules, audit of only official accounts of the Governor’s House is conducted. For opening of an official account, an official of the Governor’s Secretariat would be the signatory with the approval from the Punjab finance department. And the account must be opened in a public sector bank.
According to the rules, if the governor wants to open an account in a private bank then he is not supposed to use the name of his office but his own name.
Governor Khosa told Dawn that he wanted relief goods to be provided to the affected people without any delay and for that purpose the account had been opened in a bank approved by the State Bank to avoid procedural hiccups.
He said the district coordination officer concerned had every detail of the goods and medicines provided to the people of the flood-affected areas of Sindh and there had been no discrepancy in the spending of the donations.
Zahid Bashir was senior adviser to the governor when the account was opened. He left the charge in January following his appointment as chairman of the Red Crescent Society, Punjab. Mr Bashir refused a request for comment, while Mr Arshad said he would provide details of the spending which, he claimed, were transparent.