CDA sleeps over a treasure trove

ISLAMABAD, March 2: It appears that the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) successive regimes have been sleeping over a treasure trove — with revenue targets well within reach — since it emerged that the civic agency can generate around Rs3.2 billion from the sale of signboards and billboards.

The authority’s Directorate of Municipal Administration this year, according to a financial wing official, had generated Rs310 million against a target revenue generation of Rs230 million.

According to the official, the revenue generation audit was conducted mainly to plug in loopholes linked to revenue loss, since irregularities were reported at the directorate of municipal administration.

“The billboard and the hoarding business should have been given to the administrative control of professional marketing and business officials because it is linked with advertisement and marketing strategies,” maintained the official.As it happens, DMA is already in a legal quagmire.

“Currently the business of billboards and hoarding signs is managed by the DMA wing of the CDA which is under the scrutiny of Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) judicial commission for number of scams specifically to the allotment of kiosks in the city,” the official said.

The treasury wing official at the authority added that the DMA business domain relating to hoarding sign and sale of billboards should be divided at the sector level.

“If you divide sector as per their series of I, G, F, E, and distribute targets at assistant director level and set a revenue target of sale of signboards and hoarding signs at strategic business location we can generate around Rs3 billion,” added the treasury wing official.

Human resources further complicate matters. One senior official in CDA maintained that the authority is also short of human resources to tackle the business revenue linked with mass media and advertising.

“You need specialised professionals from media and marketing to manage the billboard and advertising revenue generation business and the authority is short of professionals,” said the official.

The official also suggested that CDA’s management should chalk out a complete advertising and billboard revenue generation policy through the sale of these boards across the city.

The official remarked: “All the record should be digitalised and made accessible to the public to ensure transparency in the sale of the business and its boards should be installed and sold as per the CDA rules and regulations.”

On the other hand, a legal wing official added that before launching any new venture for revenue generation from the sale of sign boards and large hoardings in the city, the authority should review all the previous contracts signed with different companies.

“Few of the contracts relating to allocation of strategic business marketing locations at different locations were shady and needed to be investigated,” claimed the official.

While Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz when asked to comment on the matter maintained: “We are aware of the revenue generation through sale of large size signboards and hoardings.”

He maintained: “I have learnt from my officials that we can generate up to Rs2 billion which is fair revenue generation target.”

“Any amount more then Rs2 billion would be an additional revenue,” asserted the official.

Mr Shahbaz assured that he would take up the initiative of streamlining the business revenue policy for generation of revenue through the sale of advertising billboards and hoarding signs. —Imran Ali Teepu