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Pakistan: Punjab Govt To Conduct Independent Audit Of Free Flour Scheme Over ‘Loot’ Allegations

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Saturday announced to conduct an independent audit of the free flour scheme in Punjab for the sake of “transparency and financial prudence” after baseless allegations by some Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, Dawn reported.

On May 6, Mohsin Naqvi said, “We have decided to go for an immediate audit through the Auditor General Pakistan office, and simultaneously through a private audit firm of established international repute,” as per the Dawn report.

He further said that a request was sent to the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau to verify if anything related to the allegations was committed by any “nefarious elements”. Punjab caretaker CM’s decision comes after the PML-N leader’s allegations.

PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had alleged that Pakistani Rupees 20 billion was looted during the free flour distribution programme which was first started in Punjab, as per the news report. He made the statement last week during a seminar at Lahore’s Government College University.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said, “Recently, Rs84bn worth of [free] flour was distributed. I am sorry to say that approximately Rs20 bn was looted. Look at it any which way. What if the poor man get for whom you spent Rs84bn?”, Dawn reported.

Abbasi further said that it was not possible to deliver on the promises within the current system of governance. He called for changing the whole system and further said, “it has become so corrupt that it cannot deliver, whether in the Centre or the provinces.”

Even though Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had not singled out the Punjab government. However, Punjab’s Interim Information Minister Amir Mir called Abbasi’s allegations “false and fabricated.” Meanwhile, the food department of Punjab province has denied any misappropriation, as per the news report.

In March, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced free wheat flour for the “poorest of the poor” during Ramzan, Dawn reported. The scheme was first implemented in Punjab and later in other parts of Pakistan. Sharif had ordered the authorities to plan a strategy for the supply of flour to poor families at the earliest.

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