For the clearance of the outstanding dues of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s retried employees, the Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the provincial government to bail the KMC out by considering the provision of a grant to the civic agency.
The direction came on petitions filed by retired KMC employees with regard to the payment of their outstanding pension dues. SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar, observed that the court had constituted a committee comprising the Sindh chief secretary, the local government secretary and others to explore possibilities for the clearance of the longstanding pension dues of the retired KMC employees. But despite the court direction, the chief secretary has not filed compliance report in relation to the one-time grant for the settlement of KMC’s liability towards the payment of pension and outstanding dues which is Rs4,246.99 million.
Regarding the court direction to the KMC for identifying at least 25 properties that may be sold in the first instance to clear the outstanding dues, the KMC law office filed a list of 25 properties. According to the list, three properties were in possession of five corps headquarters and the Sindh police, while 10 properties were rented out to petrol pumps. He said nine properties were being used by the KMC officials, while the Sindh government had requested for one property for the transport department.
The court said it appeared that the first five properties mentioned in the list could not be sold at present and that there was a possibility of litigation if any attempt was made to sell the properties mentioned at serial number 15 to 25. The court said only bungalows of the KMC officers could be sold which according to the KMC are worth billions of rupees.
The KMC lawyer said the bungalows and the KMC beach huts should not be sold as they would not fetch a proper market price in the prevailing circumstances, besides beach huts would provide a regular source of income to the KMC. The counsel said reasonable time be granted to the KMC to settle the liability or the Sindh government should be directed to provide a grant to bail the KMC out.
The court observed that the present state of affairs at the KMC clearly indicated that its management had miserably failed to manage the accounts properly. The court said the only reason for the present financial crises, which was increasing on a daily basis in an alarming manner, was mismanagement and lack of planning and foresight on part of the KMC.
The court said the Sindh government having supervisory control and jurisdiction in respect of the KMC was equally responsible for not taking timely action in relation to wrong decisions taken by the KMC. The court said a submission made on behalf of the KMC regarding the retention of its valuable properties could not be ignored as once its properties were sold in order to settle the liability, the KMC would not be able to generate sufficient funds for acquiring such properties in future. The court said it was not passing any order for time being for the sale of any KMC properties.
The court said the chief secretary had not filed a compliance report in relation to the one-time grant to the KMC for the settlement of the liability although the federal government in the matter of the Pakistan Steel Mills had released a massive amount of Rs24 billion to bail the PSM out for the payment of outstanding dues to its retired employees.
The court directed the Sindh government to consider providing a grant to bail the KMC out. The court issued notices to the chief secretary, the secretary local government and others, and directed them to submit a compliance report by January 20.