ISLAMABAD: The project to construct new lodges’ for parliamentarians has been referred to the Joint Standing Committee of the Parliament on House and Library. The decision was taken in a meeting of the committees in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The joint committee, comprising of members of both the National Assembly and the Senate Standing Committee on House and Library, will be briefed on the project by secretaries of finance, cabinet and the planning division.

After the meeting, Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) Member Engineering Abdul Jabbar Malano told The Express Tribune, “CDA is a body responsible for executing government’s plans and it will follow the parliament’s decision regarding construction of Parliament Lodges Directorate.”

He said that due to time constraints, the issue of irregularities in the project could not be discussed, however, the committee has decided to take up the issue in its next meeting.

The project to construct new blocks in the Parliament Lodges Directorate was recently inaugurated by the Prime Minster Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Two new blocks were to be constructed in the compound to house 104 family suites for lawmakers and 500 servants’ quarters.
The project was awarded to a construction firm, Habib Rafique Limited.

However, soon after the project’s inauguration, opposition parties criticised the government over its decision to construct the new block at an estimated cost of Rs3 billion, at a time when the country was facing severe financial crisis.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, asked the prime minister to shelve the project in the larger interest of the country.

He referred to the misery of thousands of flood victims who were still homeless and living in tents, saying they were still waiting for monetary support from the government to resume normal lives.

Given the opposition, the PM referred the issue to the parliament for final decision.

“We will accept the decision of the house in this regard,” the PM said while addressing the national assembly session a few days back.

At present, Parliament Lodges Directorate has nine blocks, of which seven are being used by parliamentarians while the remaining two by the administration.

These seven residential blocks have 358 family suites, against a total of 442 parliamentarians.

Express Tribune