Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed on Thursday that former prime minister Imran Khan incurred expenses of Rs980 million by travelling back and forth from the Prime Minister House to his private residence in Bani Gala via helicopter.
The newly appointed minister made the claim while addressing a press conference in Islamabad where she lambasted the PTI chairman for paying a fraction of the actual price to retain gifts from the Toshakhana.
Shortly after the presser, the minister released an official breakdown of the helicopter expenses allegedly incurred by Imran.
According to the detailed breakdown of expenses, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the total expenditure from June 2018 to March 2022 was Rs984m — Rs512m for maintenance and Rs472m for “expenditure during flight”.
The helicopter was used for a total of 2,723 flying hours from August 2018 to March 2022 with an average cost of Rs275,000 per hour.
Total flying hours and expenditure during flight per year:
- Aug – Dec 2018: 289 hours at a cost of Rs37.9m
- 2019: 742.4 hours at a cost of Rs131.9m
- 2020: 729 hours at a cost of Rs143.6m
- 2021: 800.9 hours at a cost of Rs123.8m
- Jan – Mar 2022: 164.5 hours at a cost of Rs35.1m
Total budget allocated for maintenance (spares and consumables) per year:
- FY19 – FY20: Rs168.5m and Rs5m for a total of Rs173.5m
- FY20 – FY21: Rs200.7m and Rs3.5m for a total of Rs204.2m
- FY21 – FY22: Rs130.8m and Rs12m for a total of Rs134.3m
‘Provide money trail for gifts retained from Toshakhana’
During her press conference, the information minister called on Khan to provide the money trail for the gifts retained from the Toshakhana and accused him of retaining a watch, a pair of cufflinks and a ring at an even lower price than what was being claimed.
“Where is the money trail for the gifts you (Imran) retained? Give the money trail for the Rs30 million you paid in one installment to retain these three things,” she said.
Aurangzeb said Imran’s income records with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) did not reflect that he was in possession of the money he paid to retain the gifts.
Reiterating her demand for a money trail, she said that it was no longer a matter of Imran’s “personal choice”.
“For 40 years, you asked for others to provide records and receipts of dead parents and deceased [relatives]. Now, Imran Khan sahab you will have to give receipts.”
Established in 1974, Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments, states and foreign dignitaries as a goodwill gesture.
It has valuables ranging from bulletproof cars, gold-plated souvenirs, expensive paintings to watches, ornaments, rugs and swords.
Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had [accused] Imran of selling expensive gifts received from foreign states, including a wristwatch by Saudi Arabia, in Dubai. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry had downplayed the matter, saying that “selling one’s own assets (after purchasing them from Toshakhana) is not a crime”.
Imran had also addressed the topic in an [interaction with journalists] on Monday, saying that he had bought a gift from a foreign president at 50 per cent of its price.
The information minister pushed back against the claim in her press conference today, saying that a watch, a pair of cufflinks and a ring were retained at 20pc of their original price instead of 50pc.
“What Imran Khan is saying at this time is again a lie. Tell the people that you retained [the watch] at 20pc [of its value] and sold it for Rs180m.”
The information minister said that while the Toshakhana items were gifts given to the prime minister and could be retained, they could not have been sold at “four times their price”.
Aurangzeb alleged that Imran had made the prime minister’s seat “a seat for business.”
She said Khan’s total income and assets were Rs141m while the income from retaining Toshakhana gifts during his stint as prime minister was Rs142m.