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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday sought a reply regarding appointment procedure and the qualifications of the Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt) Limited (PRAL) officials.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard the case related to hiring of persons for the private company for automation of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) data.

The Court granted two months to submit details about the PRAL’s functions, how many people are associated with it and what is their qualification.

The FBR and the PRAL also apprise about the income tax collection before and after 1994.

Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that the company has hired a number of directors.

He asked what is their qualification?

The chief justice questioned whether the company only collects taxes or look after other matters of the FBR.

What is the objective of the company and who provides its budget.

The court said it would examine what is the appointment criterion of the PRAL experts, adding, whether they have qualification according to the market or not.

The chief justice inquired what the company has done so far to benefit the FBR.

“We don’t know how much money the FBR collects and spend on the salaries of the private company’s officials."

The CJP remarked that it is inappropriate that the government runs its affairs through a private company.

He said the case of 55 companies of the Punjab government is still pending.

“We have that thing in our mind that a person who was getting Rs1 lac was paid Rs15 lacs in the 55 companies,” said Justice Naqvi.

The Supreme Court on February 20, 2020, had directed the FBR to file a reply on the objections raised by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) regarding setting up PRAL without following the PPRA Rules.

The IHC in 2013 had declared that the loss has been caused to public exchequer dealing secretly without following procedural law when after 1994 Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Ordinance was promulgated in 2002.

The court has directed the NAB authorities to inquire into the matter.

The IHC ordered that the cases be registered against all those responsible, who have violated the legal procedure as envisaged by the law for their personal gains.

The inquiry should be completed within three months.

It directed the chairman FBR and the secretary Ministry of Finance to enforce immediately the public procurement law in its true spirit.

The IHC had also directed that departmental proceedings should be issued for misusing and abusing the power, exercised by those officers during their tenure of service by holding the post as Directors of PRAL in violation of Sections 15 & 16 of Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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