ISLAMABAD: In the absence of a policy, the municipal administration is facing a huge revenue loss as private individuals have been allowed to use bus stops for advertising without paying any fee.

There are bus/wagon stops which could be used by the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) to earn revenue through advertising and branding of different products by private companies.

However, Dawn noticed that the DMA had allotted many of such places free of cost to individuals under the so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These individuals are earning millions of rupees monthly through the branding of national and multinational companies without paying to the civic agency.

“This is a big scam involving millions of rupees. The matter warrants a proper inquiry to expose all those involved in this scandal,” said an official of the DMA.

DC says will check record and take a decision that would be in the best interest of capital

A source said some elements, who were beneficiary of this system, never tried to formulate a policy so that the DMA could directly rent out the bus stops for branding after a competitive process.

Some officials alleged that after getting bribe DMA allotted the bus stops under the so-call CSR and the practice continued for the last many years.

When contacted, DMA DirectorShakeel Arshad confirmed to Dawn that there was no policy in place for bus stop branding.

However, he rejected the allegation of bribe and said the DMA was going to formulate a policy which will be finalised soon.

“During my tenure, I have formulated many policies and will finalise this one too,” he said.

On the other hand, an official said CSR was best if carried out in the interest of the government-owned organisation and residents of the city.

However, he asked what type of a CSR the DMA had allowed when owners of companies or persons affiliated with them were themselves seen running from one office to other to get approval for using the bus stops.

“DMA is a rich department which has sufficient budget. If there is a need for establishing and repairing bus sheds it can do it from its own resources. Why private people are so interested in such deals,” said another officer.

The DMA is part of the Municipal Corporation Islamabad (MCI), which is currently ineffective as the local government in Islamabad completed its term in February last year and elections are overdue.

In the absence of the local government, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Irfan Nawaz is looking after the affairs of the MCI as the administrator.

When contacted by Dawn, the deputy commissioner expressed surprise and said he did not know about the matter at all. He said he will check the record and will take a decision that would be in the best interest of the capital city.

Another officer said like the DMA, CDA’s environment and other wings also allowed private individuals for the so-called CSR and there was a need to look into all those cases, which were not in the interest of the city and its residents.

“All types of branding and advertisements should be allowed after competitive auction for generating revenues,” the officer said and added that during the last few years without conducting any competition some individuals were allowed advertising and branding on a pick and choose basis.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2022

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