- NAB was cited during the Cabinet meeting in the backdrop of delayed wheat import decision
Islamabad: Finance Minister Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin has once again described fear of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as a key factor for not taking decisions by the bureaucracy, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
He repeated these views before the Federal Cabinet at a time when the government is seriously considering extension in the term of the incumbent NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal.
NAB was cited during the Cabinet meeting in the backdrop of delayed wheat import decision, due to which substantial financial loss was inflicted on the national exchequer.
During discussion, the Cabinet Secretary, Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera pointed out that the case titled ‘urgent advice relating to award of third international wheat tender 2021-22 opened on September 7, 2021’, should not have been brought before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, as the decision on the matter fell within the purview of the Ministry concerned.
“It was regrettable that in many cases, a tendency has been noted that the Ministers and the Secretaries of the Divisions shirk their responsibilities in taking financial decisions at the required forum, and instead bring before ECC matters on which they were competent to take decisions,” Sukhera said, adding that this was unfair to the Cabinet, and was also causing delays in decision making, consequently harming public interest.
Tarin, who allowed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to table its summary titled “to award of third international wheat tender 2021-22 opened on September 7, 2021”, agreed that the concerned Divisions should have resolved the issue on their own; however, due to their unwillingness to take a decision because of fear of NAB, the summary was allowed to be placed before the ECC.
The Federal Cabinet was informed that the vacillation had already caused loss to the national exchequer and any further delay in the sensitive matter of wheat import was untenable.
Additional Secretary Incharge, National Food Security & Research Division, Tahir Khurshid Cheema put the onus on Commerce Division/TCP and contended that despite repeated requests the required quantities of wheat to build strategic reserves were not imported, though the subject of wheat remained the responsibility of the National Food Security Division.
According to sources, miffed at the inordinate delay, the members demanded that Chairman TCP, Dr. Riaz Memon should be asked to explain his position. And concerned Ministers and Secretaries were exhorted to take responsibility and exercise due oversight so that important matters were not left unattended. The Cabinet asked Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment to investigate the matter and fix responsibility.
In response to the concern expressed by the members over the rising prices of wheat flour, it was noted that sufficient stocks of wheat were available in the country, but the delay in releases by the Punjab had caused the price to rise. The Cabinet directed Additional Secretary In-charge, National Food Security & Research Division to request the government of the Punjab to immediately start the releases of wheat to stabilize the market.
The Cabinet also directed Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood to investigate reasons for delay in import of wheat by the TCP and fix responsibility.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021