Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommends defence contractor secrecy

In an effort to prevent India from undermining Pakistan’s defence transactions, Public Accounts Committee (Chairman MNA Noor Alam Khan on Thursday ordered the government to keep the identities and information of contractors secret.

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Specifically, we’d like to see the names of defence contractors scrubbed from official documents and websites by the Auditor General of Pakistan and the Speaker of the National Assembly. Mr. Khan has maintained that the names of the defence contractors from whom Pakistan purchases missiles and aircraft parts should not be made public.

The PAC issued these directives after reviewing the Ministry of Water Resources’ audit reports for 2019–2020.

The lack of the chief financial officer caused some discontent at the start of the conference.

However, the PAC has voiced its displeasure with the Ministry of Water Resources for failing to finish projects that were begun two decades ago and have since doubled in price.

The committee noted that the Kachhi Canal project, which began in October 2002 and was expected to be completed by September 2007, is still being worked on two decades later with a cost increase of 150%, from Rs31.2 billion to Rs81.35bn.

Similarly, the 22-year delay of the Right Bank Outfall Drain Project, which began in July 1994, resulted in the government paying a hefty Rs13.11 billion, or around 300 percent more than originally estimated.

There was a 13-year lag in the launch of the Allai Khwar Hydropower Project. Its original completion date was set for June 2007, however work began in June 2003. The total cost to the government, however, rose from Rs8.6bn to Rs16.5bn, a 91 percent rise.

The committee also took issue with the Golen Gol Hydropower project, which took an extra 12 years to complete and ended up costing 313 percent more, or Rs29.077 billion, than originally estimated. The project began in July 2002 and was expected to be completed in 2006. However, it was not completed until January 2018.

Also, the PAC brought the attention of the Ministry of Water to a dozen investigations that were still ongoing.

Mr. Khan stated that the committee has not received any report from the ministry concerning the investigation into the loss of Rs1.4bn caused by the improper issuance of contracts for remaining works through various orders in violation of PPRA guidelines. There was a loss of Rs638.5 million since the ministry had not submitted a report on an unauthorised increase in hard rock excavation and the disposal of excess material.

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