Peshawar: Wheat scam involving embezzlement of over Rs400m
PESHAWAR: The provincial government has launched a probe into the wheat scam involving embezzlement of over Rs400 million at various district food controller offices, sources in the Food Department said. They said one such inquiry against the district food controller (DFC), Dera Ismail Khan was being held by the officials of the Finance Department and was expected to be completed in a week. The sources added fresh probe was needed after the inquiry of the Public Account Committee (PAC), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly proved to be a futile exercise after the assembly secretariat could not implement the PAC decision in this respect. Referring to the PAC decision, the Food Department sources said a contract for lifting 426,000 tons was awarded to carriage contractors, but they lifted only 348,000 tons from the PASSCO godowns in Punjab up to March 31, 2010 and actually delivered 343,000 tons and the cost of the shortage in transit costing Rs138 million was paid to PASSCO directly.
The PAC ordered the recovery of the amount and disciplinary action against the officials, including clerks and storekeepers in the Food Department, the said.
The added that during 2007–08, 56,161 bags of 100kg wheat were embezzled in Kohistan and Havelian costing Rs57 million and the misappropriation is being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that has already released some officials on plea-bargain.
The sources said that the second PAC meeting earlier this month took strong exception to the reinstatement of DFC Nizakat Shah and also ordered an inquiry in another case of misappropriation of Rs10.176 million by DFC Dera Ismail Khan during 2009–10.
They added that the inquiry would be conducted by the Finance Department in two weeks to fix responsibility.
The PAC also observed that Chitral was the den of misuse of wheat distribution as a certain mafia was not allowing construction of flour mills there. Contrary to one Food Reserve Centre (FRC) in each district, there are 93 distribution points in Chitral and every year millions of rupees are misappropriated in the name of flood, damage and snow and even the gunny bags are sold out.
The sources said in one such case 10,840 empty gunny bags were sold by DFC. The PAC ordered physical verification of the stock and as a result recovery from the concerned officials was sought.
The sources maintained that Secretary Food had conceded the embezzlement taking place in Chitral and agreed that there should be two or three sales points and the remaining should be closed, but no reforms could be carried out in the district due to political interference.
In another case 179 tons of wheat and 17,934 gunnysacks were reported as damaged due to flood. The sources said such cases are common in Chitral and would be investigated. They informed that in Chitral 45 tons of sugar was also reported damaged causing a loss of Rs0.879 million and the PAC decided to recover the amount from the officials concerned.
The sources said the office of Director Food extended favour to some contractors by accepting their tenders without call deposit and also releasing the payment without retaining the 10 percent security and no penalty was imposed on them for the delay in ensuring supply. They said it inflicted loss of Rs19.052 million to the public exchequer.
An inquiry was ordered into the case and the report was to be submitted within a month.
The Food Department sources said in another case an agreement effective from August 19, 2009 was executed with PASSCO at the rate of Rs28118 per ton but payment was made at the new rates for the wheat already supplied and thus loss of Rs365 million was caused to the exchequer,.
The loss was established and the PAC decided to make full recovery along with action against the officials responsible including the Director Food. The PAC sought registration of the FIR against the then Director Food and others but no action was taken despite the lapse of a year.
The PAC last week ordered disciplinary action against the officers not implementing the previous decision.
In another case, the sources said, the Director Food didn’t impose penalty of Rs53 million on various carriage contractors due to delay in timely supply from different sales points in Punjab and Karachi.
The case will be investigated by a joint committee of Finance, Law and Food departments and recovery will be made along with disciplinary action against the concerned officials.
The sources said that in another case sub-standard gunny bags were purchased and a loss of Rs4.86 million was inflicted to the exchequer. Lower rates for transportation were ignored in another case and the contracts were awarded at higher rates causing loss of Rs4.46 million to the public kitty. A committee of Finance and Law departments would probe the matter and submit report in a month’s time.