War of words intensifies between PCB chief and senators

February 11th, 2009 - 6:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Feb 11 (IANS) The war of words between Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and the senate’s standing committee on sports intensified Wednesday with Butt declaring that the committee had no powers to interfere in national cricket affairs.

A couple of days after receiving a dressing down from the Senate committee at the Parliament House in Islamabad, Butt said in an interview Wednesday that he is only answerable to President Asif Zardari - the board’s chief patron - and the sports ministry.

However, his statement drew flak from members of the sports committee who threatened to file a privilege motion against the PCB chief. “We will indicate the powers of the Senate committee to the PCB chairman when he appears in our next meeting,” senator Enver Baig, a committee member, told IANS.

“I will be consulting my fellow committee members over the remarks made by the PCB chief and there is a possibility that we may file a privilege motion again him,” he added.

Senator Baig said that under Butt, Pakistan cricket has been turned into a complete mess.

“They are running the PCB like a grocery shop and know nothing about anything,” he said. “There are financial irregularities in the board and the PCB management is unable to provide any satisfactory answers to our queries,” he stressed adding that the PCB chairman should resign for the betterment of Pakistan cricket.

However, Butt said that he is not intimidated by the committee’s criticism and will continue serving as the PCB chief.

“The committee people can criticize us as much they like, but they have no powers and can’t give us the direction,” said Butt. Only the sports ministry and the patron of the board (Zardari) can tell us what to do,” he told reporters in Lahore.

Butt, a former Pakistan Test opener, was handpicked by Zardari to head PCB last October after former chairman Nasim Ashraf decided to step down.

The PCB chief has been under fire from various quarters for his failure to put his house in order but the Senate’s sports committee is by far his strongest critic.

At a meeting in Islamabad Feb 9, senators probing into national cricket affairs were shocked to learn that renovation work at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium could have been completed at a cost of Rs.310 million instead of the PCB’s claims of Rs.470 million.

However, Butt clarified that there was no attempt to disguise the details of financial deals, and stood by the latter figure.

“There were a number of papers which we did not get from the previous (PCB) management, but we still tried our best to satisfy the Senate committee members whatever details we had,” he said.

“It’s all in black and white, but the Senate members were not willing to accept what details we provided to them. We had terminated the services of contractor and architect and now we will look for a new contractor to complete the Gaddafi Stadium project.”

However, Baig disputed this claim and said that the board management has failed to back any of its claims over financial matters with any documentary evidence.

“The PCB officials gave us facts and figures without any supporting documents,” he said.

Butt also defended his decision to fire PCB employees, saying that he inherited a board that had 1,100 staffers. The PCB is a cricket organisation and not an employment exchange,” said the PCB chief.

“When I met Cricket Australia officials in Perth late last month, I was informed that only 80 people work in their organisation while we have a fleet of employees,” he stressed.

But senator Baig was not convinced. “If they are firing employees to cut costs then why are they only sacking low-income staffers and in the meantime hiring executives at fat salaries.”

The stage now seems set for an explosive meeting at the Parliament House in Islamabad next week. “We will soon decide the date of the next meeting with the PCB officials. It would be held any time next week,” concluded senator Baig.

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