Islamabad Club has turned into money making machine: Audit Report

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Islamabad Club is violating several rules and needs transparent criteria for membership, Audit Report says

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The Islamabad Club, established in the late 1960s as a social club for government officers and diplomats, has lately turned into a commercial entity, a money making machine and lacking transparent criteria for membership.

A recent review of the club by the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) found that it was violating several rules and has recommended a proper oversight mechanism be devised for the club.

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Violation of Rules

The AGP has stated that as the club was undertaking commercial activities, the land for commercial use can only be leased through an open auction and charged accordingly, which was not the case for the Islamabad Club. In 1970, over 244 acres of land was leased out to the club by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) at a concessional rate of Re1 per acre for the first 10 years only. The rent was to be revised a decade after the agreement but it was not, the audit revealed.

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Blocking access to documents to AGP

The club has also reportedly blocked efforts by the audit team to evaluate the criteria for granting membership. Auditors said that they were not provided the documents on matters of appointment and employment of the club’s administrator, managing committee and executive officers; the policy and procedure for provision of subsidised food and beverages to members.

“Despite repeated verbal and written requests, the management of Islamabad Club did not provide the requisite record … Due to non provision of required documents, an independent evaluation of the criteria for granting membership cannot be made by audit,” the audit report read.

The audit also found that the Riding Club House Building was constructed at a cost of Rs53.3 million without the approval of the CDA.

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Lacking transparent membership criteria

According to the Islamabad Club Ordinance, it was meant for use by federal government officers and diplomats stationed in Islamabad. However, the club management later divided the membership criteria in seven categories, granting membership to private individuals as well as companies. This practice has been termed unauthorized by the audit.

The club was incorporated as a limited company in 1968 but due to continuous losses the company was dissolved and the government took its ownership through a presidential order in 1978. Though it is placed under the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), but its role is limited and the club’s administrative and financial powers vest in the club’s administrator, which per rules is the Cabinet Division secretary.

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An Incorporated or a Government Body?

 This means the club is neither an incorporated body nor a government department and hence is not subject to various oversight and accountability mechanisms, the audit said.

“The Islamabad Club is not subject to either SECP rules, regulations or public disclosure requirements, nor it is accountable to members of the Club. Accountability and oversight mechanisms that apply to regular government departments, such as oversight by the Public Accounts Committee and Principal Accounting Officer, are non-existent and have not been implemented,” the report read and recommended that a proper oversight mechanism be devised for the club.

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Islamabad Club is an exclusive club for the elite of Islamabad. Spread over an area of 346 acres, the club comprises of guest rooms, restaurants, coffee shops, library, billiard room, banquet room and a spacious Lawn. The Club offers a variety of leisure and sport facilities including tennis, squash and badminton courts, swimming pools, gymnasium, a horse riding club, and a twenty seven hole golf course.

Courtesy: Express Tribune

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