ISLAMABAD: Amid intensifying tensions between the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) chairman and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, the latter has decided to conduct a fresh audit of KPT through a reputed firm.

The move may lead to the removal of KPT chairman, if any irregularities are found in the fresh audit.

In addition to the fresh audit by a renowned third party, the government has also decided that the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) will conduct a special audit of KPT stores, hospitals and investments made over the past five years.

Earlier, the government had removed KPT chairman Jamil Akhtar from office in March this year. However, the former rear admiral later moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which suspended the order terminating Akhtar’s services.

On the last date of hearing on April 9, the judge raised serious questions about interference by Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi in KPT affairs and in his five-page order issued on Thursday he stopped all “unauthorised people and entities” from interfering in the KPT affairs.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs had decided to conduct a fresh audit of KPT stores, hospitals and investments made over the last five years.

The Express Tribune contacted Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi for comment on the development, which was awaited till the filing of this report.

The ministry will seek the services of a renowned audit firm through a competitive bidding process. A tender would be floated in this regard, officials said.

Sources said action would be taken against the chairman along with relevant employees if they were found involved in irregularities by the auditors.

The AGP conducts audit of KPT every year. Its observations are discussed in the departmental accounts committee and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). So, the KPT already has the audited accounts.

Officials said the ministry wanted to take action against KPT officials following irregularities pointed out by the auditor general of Pakistan. However, approval has not been given yet.

A senior KPT official told The Express Tribune that in addition to the audit conducted by the AGP, a private party was also engaged to undertake the audit of KPT following directives from the minister for maritime affairs.

The ministry had also sought ex-post facto approval for conducting the audit by that private party but approval was not granted.

The KPT official also welcomed the move by the ministry of maritime affairs to conduct the audit of KPT. He said two audits – one by the auditor general and one by a private party – had already been done, so they had no issue with any audit.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2020.

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