Pakistan news February 11, 2009

Butt hits back at senate

Cricinfo staff

Ijaz Butt held a press conference and sought to set the record straight on a number of issues © AFP

Two days after an intense interrogation at the hands of the senate, the PCB launched a bullish counter-attack, effectively claiming that the upper house of parliament's bark was worse than it's bite.

Ijaz Butt, the board chairman, and other officials were taken through the ringer on a number of issues during a six-hour session in front of the senate's standing committee on sports on Monday. It culminated with a call by three senators for President Asif Ali Zardari to dissolve the board.

But in a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium today, Butt brushed aside the resignation demands, correctly pointing out that the senate had little actual power to do anything. The body can only make recommendations and occasionally grill board officials: decisive action of this nature can only be taken by President Zardari, who is also patron of the board.

"They have no power to tell us to do something," Butt said. "They can criticise us as much as they want but the only one who can take decisions like that is the patron of the board."

Prompted by the extensive media coverage the particular session received - little of it flattering - Butt held a press conference and sought to set the record straight on a number of issues.

Senators had claimed that Butt had exaggerated the extent of the PCB's financial plight at a previous senate hearing and that the balance currently in their account did not indicate impending bankruptcy. Butt said, however, that the balance he had told them still stood.

"When Dr Nasim Ashraf took over from Shaharyar Khan, our reserves were Rs 3.6 billion," Butt said. "When I took over they were Rs 1.5-1.6 billion. In this we also had urgent liabilities. When I told the senate we had Rs 2.6 billion that included Rs 1 billion that was a 10% advance on our TV rights deal that has been signed. Instead of applauding our efforts to raise money, the senators criticised it. We made no incorrect statements."

Butt again disputed claims by contractors and an architect that a renovation works project at the Gaddafi Stadium could be completed for Rs 310 million and not the Rs 471 million he claimed it had spiralled to. "The cost aside, how is it that nobody remembers that the project has completely missed its deadline? There was a date given for it to be ready in time for the Champions Trophy and it wasn't. Isn't that a problem?" asked Butt.

There was further fire directed at his predecessors, however, as Butt again highlighted the insurance deals the board signed last year ahead of the eventually postponed visit of Australia. "They gave a premium of approximately Rs 50 million. I was on the governing board at the time and asked about it but was never shown anything," Butt said. "When I took over, I was told by several professionals that those deals were a waste of time and money. Even the auditor general told us they are worth nothing."