Telecom Foundation (TF) – Another NICL like scandal in the making – Daily TheNews & Jang Report 20-06-2011
ISLAMABAD (Monday, June 20, 2011) : Telecom Foundation (TF), with assets of over Rs100 billion, functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of IT, has emerged as yet another stinking organization because of the political appointees who are facing corruption charges and hold dubious degrees but have been put in charge of the foundation’s resources, which are being misused mercilessly.
A senior TF finance officer told The News that the annual budget of TF and all subsidiaries exceeded Rs3 billion but none of them was in profit and salaries were being paid to employees by taking loans from banks.
He said that the situation prevailed despite the fact that the total value of all the assets of TF and its subsidiaries was around Rs100 billion. The TF is mandated to carry out welfare activities by generating funds through different business activities. The TF Managing Director, the administrative head of the organization, is Gul Bahadar Yousazai, who was appointed by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2009 in management scale MP-II, allegedly on the recommendations of one political party of the present ruling alliance.
Yousafzai was formerly a DG in the PTCL and was found involved in a corruption case that was investigated by the NAB. The NAB, in an official response to the Ministry of Information vide letter No 4000095/BT/IM-13/NAB dated April 5, 2010 declared: “Gul Bahadar Yousafzai, MD Telecom Foundation, in July 2000, deposited Rs2 million as voluntary return in a case of misappropriation of development funds of PTCL.”
Upon receiving this information from the NAB, the Ministry of IT contacted the Establishment Division for its opinion regarding the removal of Yousafzai, which suggested contacting the Ministry of Law and Justice for legal opinion. However, as Yousafzai was a ‘favourite’ of the Gilani government, the Babar Awan-led Law Ministry did not reply to the request of Ministry of IT. However, after repeated reminders and pressure from the TF employees, the Law Ministry finally replied after about one year, saying: “An employee who has availed the benefit of sub-section (b) of section 25 ibid shall be deemed to have been convicted for an offence under the NAB Ordinance and shall forthwith cease to hold public office as it amounts to ‘plead guilty’ for the alleged offence and so he cannot be retained in service.”
However, even after receiving the clear opinion of the Law Ministry, Yousafzai is continuing and top officials of the Ministry of Information under some alleged pressure are not initiating the process of his removal.
When contacted for his version, MD Telecom Foundation Gul Bahadar Yousafzai suggested that The News contact the Ministry of IT to know about any proceedings against him in the light of legal opinion of the Law Ministry. Regarding details of the NAB case against him, Yousafzai asked The News to contact the NAB.
Federal Secretary Ministry of IT & Telecom Saeed Ahmad Khan, on being contacted by The News, said that the Law Ministry’s opinion was not in his knowledge. “I will see the issue on Monday,” Saeed Khan said.
TF sources told The News that top management of the TF was keeping top officials of the Ministry of IT happy, so that they could continue in the foundation. Sources say that most of the vehicles of the TF were in use of top officials of the Ministry of IT, including the federal secretary, and even fuel expense of these officials was being paid by the sinking TF.
On this allegation, Federal Secretary IT Saeed Khan said that by virtue of his position, he was also the chairman of board of TF, so he was given a vehicle by the TF. “Yes, they are also giving fuel for the car as the car has been given by them. Who will give you the car will also provide you the fuel,” said Saeed Ahmad Khan.
Saeed said as a federal secretary, the federal government gave him only one car. The News verified that some other top officials of the Ministry of IT were also using TF cars and also getting fuel from there.
Riaz Ahmad Khan, deputy manager admin in TF, on being contacted, told The News that the board of TF approved advancing of cars and monthly fuel to officials of Ministry of IT, so the TF officials couldn’t do anything in this regard. “Whenever, we have objected, we were told that as the TF board was approving these expenses and facilities, we should keep quiet,” said the admin manger of TF.
The TF, according to its rules, can hire on contract retired officers of PTCL for a period of two years, which could only be extended for one more year on the basis of justified need. However, different officers, being favourites, were continuing even after three years and were being given contract of 89 days continuously. When their 89 days contract is completed, another contract of 89 days is awarded.
The News has documentary evidence to prove this. Zerrullah Khan is being hired as consultant on an 89-day contract but is working as a senior general manager HQ on administrative position. On this issue, Muhammad Din, who is GM-Admin in TF, told The News that the situation was because of shortage of officials. Din admitted that there were many officials who were being given 89-day contracts.
Amjad Hussain Qureshi, senior GM, holds three top portfolios i.e. GM Finance, GM Accounts and Secretary TF. He holds a Pakistan Institute of Public Finance Accountants (PIPFA) degree, which according to a HEC circular available with The News could not be considered as a degree and is not equal to Chartered Accountant (CA) or Institute of Cost and Management Accountants (ICMA), which according to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) rules are equal to M.Com.
Qureshi, according to documents, who has simply passed CA-Inter and never completed the degree, is not only continuing on top government positions but in the past had also taken an allowance from the TF, which was meant only for higher professional degree holders. Similarly, Rashid Anwar Shami, DGM (F&A), working on a post equivalent to Grade-19, has pre-requisite qualification of Masters but Shami is a graduate and has done a one-year executive MBA and according to an HEC circular available with The News, this MBA is not equal to a Masters degree and is simply a diploma.
While replying to the cases of degrees of Qureshi and Shami, GM-Admin Muhammad Din said that when these officials applied for these positions, no qualification was mentioned in the advertisements. However, The News verified that in the TF rules, pre-requisite qualifications for these top administrative positions were clearly mentioned.
Besides, many TF officials are said to have fake degrees or very low qualifications as compared to their positions and are being given vehicles and monthly fuel which, according to rules, is illegal.
Employees of the TF also requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice and save an important organisation which, despite getting big benefits and lands from the federal government, is on the verge of collapse.