Embezzlement of around Rs10 billion involving a ‘Cartel of Bureaucrats’ hovering over Punjab Health Dept.

They say it’s the calm before a storm in the Primary & Secondary Health Department Punjab as authorities might be discreetly investigating a well articulated complaint letter which is being circulated in groups of the health employees alleging embezzlement of astounding Rs10 billion. The anonymous letter reveals a nexus between the then chief Secretary Punjab and his blue eyed boys perfectly positioned to ensure easy flow of incentives from P&SHD’s Project Management Unit.

It’s a 1600-word letter (available with othernews.pk), with around 10 supporting documents including notifications and ads given to newspapers attached to it. It is widely rumored in the department that the complaint letter might be a copy of a complain actually launched at the Prime Minister Portal.

The complaint starts from a bureaucrat, Asad Naeem, who, living up to his Gora training, carries a reputation of an officer who uses vulgar language, mistreats, looks down upon, and forcibly gets illegal work done by his subordinates. Asad Naeem was posted as Director Project at the Project Management Unit in the P&SHD in September 2019(notification attached to complain letter). The complaint clearly states that Asad Naeem was posted here only to manage kickbacks from the PMU of the P&SHD.

The complaint sheds light on the amount of power given to him by his superiors that as soon as Asad Naeem was posted, he flexed his muscles by making some quick transfers and postings at key positions in the Procurement and Outsourcing Wing of PMU exhibiting his power and liaison with his superiors. The complaint talks of a ring between the then Chief Secretary, Secretary Services, Project Director, PMU, Asad Naeem, and others calling it a ‘Cartel of Bureaucrats.’ The complaint says that as soon as Asad Naeem was posted here, he was promoted to BS-20 (notification letter available with othernews.pk) but he was kept to work at the same position of Director Project at the P&SHD.

The complaint letter mentions an incident in which Madiha Tahir Shah, another bureaucrat working just under Asad Naeem, was given 40-day leave for Umra by S&GAD Notification Asad Naeem got very angry. He misbehaved with her and asked her not to return to PMU again. Following this, Madiha Tahir Shah was freed from her responsibilities and Ahsan Naeem, Project Officer (Operations), PMU, P&SHD, who was was three tiers junior to the post, according to the letter, was given the additional charge of Deputy Project Director, PMU.

The well jotted complaint says that Additional Secretary (Development & Finance) in Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department Farooq Alvi, was initially against Mr. Asad Naeem because incentives had to be shared between the two but quickly understood that they had to work together for their mutual goals. From there a flawless flow of incentives were ensured the letter claims.

The complaint takes names of business done with companies like Sarmik, Eastern Medical Technology Services, and  Mustahlik. It also mentions millions of Rupees fine on hospitals being waived off by these officers without any reasonable cause. The complaint says that in FY2019-20 a total of 4 billion were released to vendors by the signatures of both Director Project PMU Asad Naeem and Farooq Alvi, Additional Secretary (Development & Finance).

Sources privy to the matter say that with the departure of Chief Secretary Suleman Khan, Asad Naeem also got himself transferred to Managing Director, Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) vide Notification No. 51.2-2/2020 dated 26-10-2020.

The complaint says that the void in the ongoing corruption racket was quickly filled as Farooq Alvi Additional Secretary (Development & Finance) was given the charge of Project Director PMU which was acknowledged by the then Secretary, P&SHD Capt. Retired Muhammad Usman currently posted Commissioner Lahore.

Just then S&GAD posted Zahida Azhar new Deputy Project Director, PMU. Farooq Alvi, Additional Secretary (Development & Finance) with an additional charge of Project Director, PMU quickly segregated the two DPD by introducing an unlawful post of Deputy Project Director (Tech) to set aside Zahida Azhar while Ahsan Naeem, Project Officer Additional Charge of Deputy Project Director, PMU was given another extra charge of Deputy Project Director (Tech) (all notifications are available with othernews.pk).  All this was being processed very quickly by the then Secretary P&SHD Capt. Rtd Usman.

The complaint letter further says that PMU which has a total standing of Rs10 billion is a bazaar of corruption where faces change situations did not. The complaint mentions that Asad Naeem, seeing this tried to come back to his previous post and for this, a notice was also issued but Farooq Alvi and Capt. Usman stood in his way. The complaint claims that both did not want to share their cut with a 3rd party.

The complaint further goes on to guide authorities for evidences on this matter.

The complaint letter asks authorities to check the details of payments before and after the posting of Asad Naeem at PMU. It says that illegal payments were made to Eastern Medical Technology Services in lieu of Guaranteed Load which was in contradiction to signed contracts. It says that contracts and names of vendors can be obtained from PMU alleging most payments to be illegal. The complaint asks authorities to check the ledgers/cheque details of the PMU Finance Department and audit transfers and posting history which will substantiate the claim.

Othernews.pk contacted various officers in this regard. Public Relations Officers of P&SH Dept, Health Ministry, chief secretary Punjab none were able to comment on the development.

Minister Primary & Secondary Health, Yasmeen Rashid when contacted showed shock and complete oblivion to the matter. She asked for some time. When contacted again after several days she said that she’ll be able to comment only after investigation. The minister was contacted many times after but could not be reached.

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