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Senate send off: Farewell feasts by Rabbani, others cost Rs10 million

ISLAMABAD: Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, former opposition leader in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, and others lavishly threw farewell parties which ran up bills totalling almost Rs10 million in just a week.

The Senate Secretariat Protocol Branch, in a letter to the Finance and Accounts Branch, stated that the proposed additional amount of Rs9.841 million may be reappropriated in the Entertainment and Gifts account for the 2017-18 financial year.

The expenses were supposedly incurred on account of events hosted by the former Senate chairman, former deputy chairman, and former leader of the opposition, according to the letter.

The letter also mentioned that the Protocol Branch had already submitted revised estimates for 2017-18 and budget estimates for 2018-19 to the Finance and Accounts Branch with the stated amount of funds not included.

There were nine lunches and dinners from March 6, 2018 to March 13, 2018 at a cost of an additional Rs9.841 million, according to the details provided in the letter.

All the lunch and dinner parties had estimated a cost which was intimated on February 19, 2018 by the Protocol Branch of the Senate Secretariat at the time of writing of the letter. However, the parties were thrown later on different dates.

The lunch hosted by the former chairman Senate in the honour of all staff of the Senate Secretariat was the most expensive event, with Rs2.85 million spent on it. The lunch was held on March 7, 2018.

Meanwhile, the farewell dinner hosted by the former Senate chairman on March 8 cost Rs1.99 million, and the launch of Senate Publications on March 9 had an estimated cost of Rs1.262 million.

A dinner on March 6 hosted by former leader of the house Raja Zafarul Haq in favour of all the senators had an estimated cost of Rs525,000, the same tab as the dinner hosted by former Senate deputy chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haideri in the honour of all the senators on March 7.

The dinner hosted by former leader of opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan on March 8 in honour of the senators also cost the national exchequer Rs525,000. Another lunch in the honour of the senators on March 12 cost Rs225,000. The last event of the outgoing Senate officer bearers, the handover ceremony on March 13, cost Rs175,000.

The total spending is the equivalent of the average annual Benazir income support programme payout to 500 families.

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