|EOBI terms MQM hurdle in rent recovery from shops|
05 September 2012
ISLAMABAD: A top official at the Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI) on Tuesday told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that a nexus of nine private companies and local political workers with close links to the MQM had occupied shops at the EOBI Plaza, Karachi, without paying rent since 2001.
The EOBI expressed its inability and failure to remove the illegal occupants and recover rent from the tenants.
EOBI Director General Investment Wahid Khursheed expressed his inability to get the shops vacated due to interference and influence of the MQM and the matter had now reached the sector in-charge of the political party, who was a huge hurdle in the recovery of rent.
After being told, the PAC ordered a probe into the occupation of the shops and asked the EOBI official to recover the rent from the tenants within 15 days. He added that if it failed, rent would be recovered from the officials of the EOBI after fixing responsibility.
The revelation came from Khursheed during the meeting of the PAC, chaired by its Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan, at the Parliament House. The PAC asked the EOBI why it had taken no action against such defaulters. The DG Investment EOBI replied that the political influence of the MQM made recovery of rent a difficult task. “Though we have taken up this issue with MQM’s local leaders, they cannot do anything as this issue comes under the purview of the sector in-charge of the MQM,” Khursheed said.
PPP member of the PAC Yasmeen Rehman said the issue would be taken up with MQM members Haider Abbass Rizvi and Wasim Akhtar but at the same time the EOBI should also seriously pursue the issue and recover the amount.
The DG Investment said the shops were closed whenever the recovery staff went to collect the rent. “We have taken up this issue with the local political party to resolve it,” he told the committee.
PPP Member Noor Alam Khan said that if the EOBI was unable to get the shops vacated from defaulters, he was prepared to send people for the purpose. “This is a serious issue but the EOBI seems uninterested in the recovery of dues,” he added.
To a question, the EOBI officials told the PAC that as per the last assessment, the market value of the plaza was Rs4.4 billion.
There were nine defaulter in total and their names were given as: All About You, Imran Yousaf, Iqbal Yousaf, MAC Point, Valor Jeans, M/s Fashion 2000, M/s Kanan, M/s Imran Brothers and M/s Tana Bana.
The audit officials pointed out that the amount of rent was outstanding since 2001 and the management had failed to recover the rent on due dates.
In the meanwhile, the DG EOBI told the committee that the EOBI Investment portfolio was of Rs221 billion, out of which 50 percent was invested in fixed income, 25 percent in real estate and 25 percent in stock exchange. He told the committee that 4.5 million people were registered with the EOBI and 450,000 were getting pension.
While reviewing the appropriation accounts of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD), which was the Labour Ministry prior to devolution under the 18th Amendment, the secretary HRD told the committee that funds of billions of rupees were not utilised in 2006-07 for vocational training and skill development and were surrendered to the federal government.
The secretary said funds of Rs1 billion were not utilised due to the failure of the federal government and provincial governments to coordinate on setting up training centres. Because of this, he said, Pakistan missed the opportunity to send skilled workers to other countries. He said only one technical training centre was established at Mandra near Rawalpindi.
On a PAC inquiry regarding the workers welfare funds, the secretary Ministry of HRD said that the funds remained with the Finance Ministry, which released them project-wise to the Ministry of HRD.
The PAC directed the secretary HRD to brief the committee next week on rules and regulation under which manpower was being exported to Korea and other countries.
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