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CJ orders Shahbaz to return Rs5.5m spent on ads
By Tariq Butt March 09, 2018
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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday ordered Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to reimburse to the national exchequer Rs5.5 million after a Punjab government newspaper advertisement carrying his photograph was displayed before it during hearing of a suo motu case on hefty ad expenditure by provincial governments.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took exception to the extravagant sums of money doled out on advertisements by the Punjab government annually.

In a previous hearing, the chief justice had observed that taxpayers’ money was being used for self-promotion and big ads were awarded at the nation’s expense.

There is no water in state-run schools, no medicine available in public hospitals, and yet provincial governments’ spend taxpayers’ money on massive advertisements, he had said, adding that provincial governments would have to promote their work at their own expense. He also wondered whether such expenditures are equal to pre-poll rigging.

The provincial information secretary told the court that a sum of Rs120m was spent on advertisements by the provincial government in one month.

“Rs120m in one month amounts to Rs1.5 billion worth of advertisements in a year,” Justice Nisar remarked, inquiring what the procedure for issuing advertisements was. “How much did this advertisement cost?” he asked after being shown a newspaper clipping of an ad depicting Shahbaz Sharif.

Upon being informed that it cost Rs5.5m, he said that the money could have been used to provide medicines to citizens instead.

The chief justice was critical of the money spent on the ad and asked whether the country was someone’s kingdom.

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