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Top court calls federal finance secretary on embezzlement in 2005 quake funds

Islamabad: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the federal finance secretary to appear before the court in the next hearing of the case of alleged embezzlement in financial assistance extended by national and international communities for the rehabilitation of the survivors of 2005 earthquake.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan, during the hearing, remarked that it is government obligation to brief the court how much funds it had received and where these funds were spent. He added the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) was responsible to implement the projects only.
The petitioner briefed the top court that the government had allocated over 12,000 acar of land to Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and State Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (SERRA), adding that despite the area residents facing server shortage of water and no hospital could be constructed in the area as well.
Upon which, the top court judge remarked the King Abdullah Hospital’s inauguration today is due to the Supreme Court.
The chief justice sought about the fund received by the quake survivors and the financial assistance received by the government.
The petitioner informed the court that over 4,000 students in the area are still getting education under the open sky due to lake of school buildings.
He added the ERRA had transferred Rs185 billion in the account of ministry of finance for the rehabilitation of earthquake victims, adding that Rs55 billion was transferred under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). He also informed the top court that the ERRA annual budget is Rs162 billion. Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked at least six new cities could be developed with Rs600 billion.
The petitioner requested the Supreme Court judges to order the audit of ERRA financial expenditures, adding that the competent authority allegedly spending 92 per cent to manage its administrative affairs and the remaining 8 per cent on the ERRA initiated reconstruction and rehabilitation projects.
The petitioner argued said that the ERRA counsel should inform the top court why the work on 1,640 projects could not be initiated out of a total 14,704 projects. Upon which, the chief justice asked were the quake funds transferred to discretionary accounts.
The petitioner also appealed the Supreme Court chief justice to pay a visit to the quake hit area. In the 2005 quake, more than 8,049 buildings, including 3,847 schools, colleges and universalities were demolished.
The chief justice then asked what you mean no measures were taken for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Balakot city. In response, the petitioner submitted a report of district session Judge Mansehra on the reconstruction and rehabilitation. The petitioner briefed the court that the shelters constructed by the competent authority were resideable, adding that no person from bureaucracy and military can stay in these poor quality constructed shelter houses.
The ERRA spokesperson informed the court that the authority’s annual expenditures are Rs1 billion. The court, however, adjourned the hearing after directing the federal finance secretary to appear before the court in the next hearing.

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