An internal audit of Pakistan Railways (PR), beleaguered by cumulative losses of over Rs 28 billion and a number of corruption scandals, has pinpointed misappropriation of funds worth Rs 10 billion in its latest report. According to the report, 4147.8 acres of railway land in Dera Ghazi Khan sub-division Multan (Punjab province) worth Rs 4,147.8 million is no more in possession of the railways. “It has been illegally occupied and some part of it sold in connivance with the railways officials,” the report alleged, with fingers being pointed towards Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.
The audit report also points to another illegality in PR – irregular expenditure on account of 75 DE Locos project worth Rs 3,497.2 million. The audit says “unauthorised” reduction of approved scope of work and irregular transfer of material to other projects of railways caused a loss of Rs 1,300 million.
“Loss of revenue worth Rs 37.9 million due to un-authorisation of railway land besides unjustified payment of Rs 10 million on account of TA/DA has been made,” the report said. In another scandal, the management of four trains – Khushhal Khan Khattak (KKK) Express, Bolan Mail, Hazara Express and Fareed Express – have allegedly been given to the favourites of the minister in violation of the rules.
According to the report, the railways has put the ‘Public Procurement Rules 2004’ on the back burner by amending articles of bid document while entering into an agreement for outsourcing the commercial management of these trains to the “favourite parties”. Saad Rafique, who is on a 20-day holiday trip to Europe, could not be reached for his comments.
PR Chairperson Parveen Agha denied Rafique’s involvement in the corruption scandals. “The PR is trying to improve the state of affairs and will fix the responsibility on the officials involved in corruption,” she said. Pakistan Railways is in deep financial mess and its losses have surpassed Rs 28 billion.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised, during his election speeches, to turn around both Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the PR. However, no visible improvement has been witnessed in both organisations so far. PIA is facing an accumulative loss of over Rs 300 billion while PR is still lagging behind to meet its deficit.