Zakat committees “corrupt to the core”

February 28, 2010

In Pakistan, which has a fully Islamized tax system, local committees are used to collect and distribute zakat on behalf of the government.  The Punjabi zakat minister has admitted that those committees are totally corrupt, and that not enough has been done to replace the worst committee members.  From The Nation on Feb. 11:

LAHORE – The Punjab government on Wednesday admitted that the Zakat committees were corrupt to the core, and huge embezzlements had been identified in the audit of year-2007, while the present dispensation is yet to appoint ‘honest’ people to replace the corrupt and take action against them.

This ‘disclosure’ was made by Minister Zakat and Usher Haji Ehsan-ud-Din Qureshi while giving replies to questions about his Department here at the Punjab Assembly. As per usual, the Minister miserably failed in giving satisfactory answers despite Senior Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed’s repeated interferences with clarified statements, parchis from the gallery and continuous rephrasing of questions and statements – ‘carefully listen to the questions and properly answer them’ – by Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, which amply proved that ‘one cannot make others read or comprehend something if they do not have the capacity’.

Interestingly, regarding the formation of the Committee, both Senior Minister and Minister Zakat dragged in the Federal Government, when the former maintained that the Centre was yet to amend the Constitution for forming new committees. However, the Opposition seemed to have raised a valid point when it quizzed the Treasury about its performance and working during the last two years.

The Opposition members, mainly led by Aamir Sultan Cheema for this part of the session, launched a bitter diatribe against the govt as they believed that it had failed in distributing much-needed money to the deserving, as it did not trust the old committees, and had not yet formed the new ones.

Moreover, they bitterly criticised the Treasury for its failure in taking action against the corrupt chairmen Zakat committees, especially when it was admitting that these chairmen were dishonest. Simultaneously, they also asked for mentioning the reasons for not publishing names of the corrupt.

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