US holds up reimbursement of over $4 billion to Pak
|Finding ''serious flaws'' in the bills submitted by Pakistan, the US has held up the reimbursement of USD four billion spent by this country's army on the war on terror, a media report said today.|
| Pakistani army had submitted bills worth USD 12 billion for reimbursement under the Coalition Support Fund and the US has paid only USD eight billion, officials of Pakistan's Defence Ministry told a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. |
The officials confirmed that the US Treasury Department had not reimbursed claims for USD four billion. They did not tell the parliamentarians the possible reasons for this development.
Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Athar Ali too confirmed that the amount had not been paid during a closed-door briefing to members of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Defence presided over by Azra Fazal Pechuho.
The payment was blocked after US treasury officials questioned the authenticity of bills submitted by Pakistan and refused to clear the dues until the objections were addressed to their satisfaction, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted an official source as saying.
The Defence Secretary told the Parliamentary Committee that as part of an agreement between the two countries, the US had agreed to reimburse costs incurred by the army within Pakistan's borders.
Ali chose not to speak about why the amount had not been repaid by the US and the objections raised by the Americans.
In the April 7 meeting of the Parliamentary Panel, Defence Ministry officials said that according to the understanding, 60 per cent of the amount paid by the US government is given to the Army's General Headquarters and 40 per cent is received by the Pakistan government.
The newspaper quoted its unnamed source as saying that no real efforts had been launched to remove the objections raised by the US.
The source claimed that US treasury authorities had developed serious complaints against Pakistani authorities assigned to dispatch the bills.
The Americans feel that Pakistani authorities are not following the criteria laid down to have the expenses reimbursed in line with American laws, the source said.
During bilateral talks, US authorities "complained time and again that in most cases, bills submitted to the US treasury were either faulty or they were being charged twice under one head," the source added.
A Pakistani delegation raised the issue during the strategic dialogue in Washington last year.
After detailed discussions, the US had agreed that it would release a few hundred million dollars.
* Congressional Research Service says $3.6b given to Pakistan from Jan 2002 to Aug 2005
* $900m to be released in fiscal year 2007