Pakistan cricket May 8, 2008

Senate to grill PCB on its bank balances

Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, will face the Senate © AFP

The stage is set for another battle between the Senate's Standing Committee on Sports and the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) top brass today with the focus of Senators shifting towards the board's finances.

The meeting that was requisitioned by the committee in a bid to probe the PCB's bank accounts will be held this morning with Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, and Shafqat Naghmi, the chief operating officer, appearing before the Senators.

While the PCB officials say they will be attending the meeting well-prepared, the Senate committee, according to one of its members, enjoys no such luxury. Some of the Senators are in fact fuming over the board's lethargy over the matter and say that they are yet to receive the PCB's accounts details.

"We were expecting to receive the accounts details of the PCB at least four to five days before the meeting but are yet to get hold of any such document," Senator Enver Baig told The News on Wednesday.

The Senate committee has sought the PCB's account details from 2004 onwards. The PCB bosses will chiefly be grilled by Senator Haroon Akhtar, who is regarded as a financial expert. A member of the opposition PML (Q) party, Haroon is a brother of the former commerce minister Humayun Akhtar.

A top PCB official told this paper that the Senators will be provided with comprehensive details of the board's bank balance.

"We have nothing to hide," said Naghmi. "The board's finances are in good shape and will be presented before the Senate committee tomorrow."

Naghmi said the PCB devised its treasury policy for the first time in May 2007 following an approval of the ad-hoc committee which has been now been disbanded. "All our bank deals are governed by that policy," he said.

Giving details, Naghmi said the policy makes it clear that the PCB can only deal with banks that are given A or A+ status by the relevant authorities. "And it was also decided that the board will not keep more than 15% of its funds in one bank, which is why our accounts are spread over several banks."

The PCB has been criticised for putting its funds in several second-tier banks like Soneri Bank, MyBank, Bank of Khyber, NIB, Atlas and Habib Metropolitan Bank.

Naghmi painted a rosy picture of the PCB funds saying that they are growing in a healthy manner. "In 2004, the average return on the board's investments was 5% but currently it is 9%," he said.

However, it remains to be seen whether Naghmi and Ashraf will be able to convince the Senate committee that the billions of rupees in what is the most cash-rich sports body in the country are in safe hands.