CJP hears quake funds’ embezzlement case

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Islamabad

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar has left for Balakot to review the rehabilitation work after suo motu hearing of alleged embezzlement of USD5 billion financial assistance extended by the international community for rehabilitation of 2005 earthquake survivors. During the case hearing in Supreme Court on Wednesday, an official of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) told the court that the organisation is facing difficulty getting ownership of the land. “If we get the ownership then the project will be completed in two years,” the official said.
Responding to this, Chief Justice asked the official what will the earthquake victims do for two years. “Will the poor people stay under the sky for two years,” he asked. The top judge remarked that the former finance minister should appear before the court and share details of where the money was spent.
While referring to secretary finance Arif Ahmed Khan, the CJP asked him whether the public funds were made a part of national treasury or not? “What happened to Balakot?”
Khan responded that the funds for development programmes are released on yearly basis. Chief Justice Nisar then asked him about the funds received from foreign aid. Khan shared that Pakistan received USD2.89 billion as foreign aid, adding that he doesn’t have the records for funds received within the country.
On this, the ERRA represent said that government released funds worth Rs1.9 billion while donors released Rs100 billion funds. He also shared that ERRA completed 10,563 projects, adding that Rs5.3 billion have been spent in development projects since 2006. “We need additional Rs37 billion for the projects,” he said. The CJP remarked: “Is Rs5 billion a small amount? All paternal and maternal uncles have been employed in ERRA.”
CJP then asked how long it takes to travel to Mansehra. To which, the ERRA official said that it takes at least four hours. The chief justice then announced to travel to Balakot to personally review the situation there. On March 19, Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar has taken suo motu notice of alleged embezzlement in over $5 billion financial assistance extended by the international community for rehabilitation of the survivors of the devastating earthquake of 2005.—INP

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