Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and HRD Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari Tuesday said Sindh minister Saeed Ghani had levelled baseless allegations of ‘unconstitutional seizure’ of Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) and Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOB) by the Federal Government.
Addressing a press conference here, he said the matter pertaining to devolution of the two institutions to the provinces was taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) some 18 months ago and all the stakeholders, including the Sindh Government, were asked to present their points of view.
Keeping in view the concerns of EOBI’s employees, it was decided to retain the departments with the federation and the Sindh chief minister had also given his consent to the effect in writing, he added.
The SAPM, who is know as Zulfi Bukhari, dared Saeed Ghani, who had again raised the matter after 18 months, to present the documents and minutes of the CCI meeting, if any, to support his allegations.
He said the Sindh minister should better clear the position of his provincial government on corruption, which should stop playing with the fate of poor people and pensioners.
He said during the tenure of Pakistan Peoples Party government in 2011, 250 kanal land was purchased in Rawat from the EOBI’s funds at a high cost. Its current market value was even half of the amount spent at that time.
The then PPP minister Khurshid Shah, he claimed, had doled out Rs 1 billion from the EOBI’s funds to the Sindh government for the rehabilitation of flood victims in the province, but it was misused.
There was a scam of Rs 250 million of EOBI misused in an ad campaign and the PPP leaders had to make plea bargains with the National Accountability Bureau on that count, he added.
The EOBI’s funds were (NAB) an asset of labourers and workers, which were ruthlessly misappropriated by the PPP, he remarked.
The SAPM recalled that the PPP government had established regional offices of the WWF without any tendering process. Similarly, 150 employees were appointed for those offices, which were later shut down. Those employees had now nothing to do, he added
Likewise, he said, the PPP government had made illegal appointments of 350 employees in the EOBI.
He said the present government was taking practical steps for the welfare of pensioners as it had raised their pension from Rs 5,250 to Rs 8,500, which was 62 percent increase. Efforts were afoot to further increase the pension to Rs 10,000, he added.
The government was trying to bring the EOBI’s pension to equal to the minimum wage in future, the SAPM said.
Displaying a chart of EOBI’s funds collection, he said it were Rs 10.4 and Rs 15.5 billion during the tenures of PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz governments respectively.
The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf government, he added, had raised the funds collection to Rs 23 billion in its first two years despite COVID-19 pandemic. The amount was expected to reach Rs 25 billion next year, he added.
He said the Supreme Court had taken a suo moto notice of corruption in the purchase of 18 properties of the EOBI and misuse of its funds. It was a big scandal in the country’s history.
He said all the properties were in NAB’s possession. The PTI government had managed to release four properties and was working to get back the rest.
The prime minister was expected to inaugurate an advanced technology building of EOBI next month, he added
Zulfi Bukhari rejected rumours circulating on media regarding his secret visit to Israel. He said he had always supported the cause of Palestinians and wrote many articles in that regard before joining politics. He even led a million march and sponsored many events to that effect while living in England.
He said he was going to seek legal remedy against the foreign newspaper, which had published the fake news about his Israel’s visit.