LHC moved agaisnt conversion of Mineral Corporation into company

10:16 PM | 8 Dec, 2017
LHC moved agaisnt conversion of Mineral Corporation into company
LAHORE - A citizen has filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday against the approval granted by the Punjab chief minister to convert the Punjab Mineral Development Corporation into a private limited company.

A local bar member Naveed Khan filed the petition through advocate Ch Shoaib Saleem. The Punjab chief minister, secretary mines and minerals department and the chief secretary have been impleaded as respondents in the petition.

The petitioner lawyer argued that the High Court has already seized with a petition of the constitution of 56 companies in the province of Punjab and more than 10 companies have been closed during the recent past either due to illegalities or inefficiencies.

He further argued that the Corporation established under The Punjab Minerals Development Corporation Act 1975, having more than 400 regular employees, never received any budget from the Punjab government since its inception, instead it is generating revenue for the government. Only during the financial year of 2016-17, the Corporation has paid sales tax of Rs 65.352 million, income tax of 16.886 million, EOBI Rs 3.104 million and royalty of Rs 30.274 to the provincial government.

The advocate said that the Punjab chief minister approved the conversion of the Corporation into a private limited in a meeting held on 27 October 2017, just to accommodate his cronies and favourite bureaucrats as head of the companies who are already being paid in millions.

He argued that as per Section 18 of The Punjab Mineral Corporation Act 1975, the corporation has already the mandate to form and establish companies to manage and run the projects established by it but the chief minister is held bent on constituting of a new company by converting the corporation into a private limited company against the constitutional scheme, especially Article 140-A read with Article 32 of the constitution.

Moreover, he said, all the powers regarding financial matter have to be exercised by the local government as per Local Government Ordinance 2001 and the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 but the companies are operating as independent entities in violation of the local government laws.

Shoaib further argued that Auditor General of Pakistan has the constitutional mandate of conducting an audit of state-owned organizations but companies registered with the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has to get them audited internally by hiring some private audit firm which has limited the constitutional scope of Auditor General of Pakistan.

Wastage of public money on the constitution of Punjab public companies has also marred the real concept of democracy which provides a social justice and facilities to the public at large, he said.

The petitioner prayed the court to declare the conversion of Corporation into a private limited company as illegal and violative to the constitutional scheme and The Punjab Mineral Corporation Act 1975. The petition will be taken up by Justice Shahid Karim today (Friday).