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Education Scandal Uncovered: Millions Misused in Punjab Reform Program

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LAHORE (Anwer Hussain Sumra Investigative Journalist)

In the Punjab Education Sector Reform Program, the purchase of equipment, computers, furniture and the appointment of consultants was made with the blessing of a former provincial minister, the sources have revealed it. After the initial inquiry by the Program Monitoring and Implementation Unit of the Punjab Education Sector Reform Program into the procurement of 1 billion 88 crores from different firms in the financial year 2021-22, the contractors voluntarily returned funds of 21 crores to the department. Despite sending the report to Chief Secretary Punjab, no disciplinary action could be taken against the responsible government officials, nor could the case be forwarded to Anti-Corruption Punjab for further investigation.

According to investigation and documents, the Punjab government started the Punjab Education Sector Reform Program with the support of the World Bank and the Commonwealth Development Office to improve the quality of education in the education sector. Under this program, the Program Monitoring and Implementation Unit has undertaken the construction of data center, purchase of tablets, learning kit, social assessment, awareness program, event management, production, construction of multi-grade classrooms and purchase of sports equipment under PEPRA rules and hired consultants and firms to conduct various studies. On the complaints of corruption in this procurement process, Secretary School Education Punjab constituted a committee to find out the facts and mandated it to give its recommendations on the corruption in this procurement. The Committee was directed to check the rates of all the equipment and supplies purchased against the prevailing market rates to see if they were purchased at high rates or at least taken at minimum rates. High rates of purchased items and goods were revealed. In its report, the committee also revealed that in all the procurement, colluding with the government officials and the responsible firms caused a deliberate loss of crores of rupees to the public exchequer and procured goods and services at exorbitant prices in which unit K.P. MS, CMS, FMS and procurement officers were involved.

Due to this corruption, the government was also discredited. In its recommendations, the committee said that weak criteria were adopted for hiring individual consultants, performance guarantees were not taken from firms and technical experts were not taken for procurement, all payment minutes were rushed and the public exchequer in Crores was damaged. A senior official of the Punjab Education Department said that all the firms and consultants who supplied the equipment were informed about the report of the committee, on which all the firms and consultants voluntarily returned the funds of 21 crores, but there was an alleged corruption of 40 to 50 crores in this purchase. Is. He said that a provincial minister is involved in this corruption because when the senior officers of the department started an inquiry on the matter, they were threatened, and the provincial education secretary was changed. After the initial inquiry, the department dismissed the unit’s pharmacists, but the corruption was not referred to the Anti-Bribery Department so that the scandal could be fully investigated and action could be taken against those responsible.

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