Minister Sharjeel Memon living in Dubai for last three months, runs department’s affairs from there
KARACHI: One of the Sindh government’s most important departments is being run from Dubai. Let this sink in a minute. Yes, the affairs of the works and services department are being managed by the minister, Sharjeel Memon, remotely from Dubai.
According to official sources, Memon, who was given the portfolio in July, has hardly attended his office and convenes all the department’s meetings in Dubai. This means that the department’s employees travel to Dubai each time he wants to meet them, with their travelling and accommodation expenses paid for by the department. Talk about lack of funds.
“The minister has been living in Dubai for the last three months now,” said an official of the department. “Recently, he convened a meeting where the chief engineers of his department went and briefed him about development schemes. The travel costs, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by the department from public funds,” said the source, who wished not to be named.
Memon, who earlier served as information minister, reportedly left the country following raids by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at government offices. He dismissed, however, media reports of allegations of corruption against him. “I am clean. This is nothing but a media trial against me as some section of the press has created a hype.” He came to Pakistan for a few days but left for Dubai soon after.
Memon’s office in the Sindh Secretariat has been padlocked for the last three months and people coming from various parts of the province must go back without meeting the minister. “This is my third visit in the last two months,” said Hadi Bux Memon, who hails from Tando Jam. “Memon had earlier promised to give a government job to my son but his office is closed whenever I come here.”
Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Memon could not be reached on his phone in Dubai, neither did he respond to text messages. His spokesperson, meanwhile, explained that Memon was given a party assignment in Dubai, which is why he lives there. “The party high command is also in Dubai and Memon facilitates the leadership with regards to the upcoming local government elections. He conducts departmental meeting via video link and gets every update about his department,” said the spokesperson, adding that the minister has nothing to do with the department’s affairs as the secretary deals with all the administrative issues.
Memon not only looks after the works and services department, which allocates the budget for different projects and releases it, but is also looking after the provincial archives department.
According to sources in the Sindh government, the NAB and FIA have already started an inquiry against Memon for his alleged involvement in bungling billions of rupees allocated for civic and municipal services in municipality and towns committees.
Memon, who earlier served as the local government minister, is reportedly facing multiple charges including illegal appointments in his department and taking billions of rupees in bribe from hoarding companies and illegal water hydrants.
He had denied all the allegations. “During my tenure in the local government department, I have done extraordinary work and taken action against land mafia, illegal hydrants and billboards. No one can prove a single penny’s worth of corruption against me,” he had said in a press conference some time ago.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.