PESHAWAR, Oct 22: The ruling elite’s luxurious lifestyle and unauthorised expenditure have overburdened the cash-starved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa whose economy largely depends on federal divisible pool and net hydel profit, according to the audit documents.
These documents presented before the Public Accounts Committee of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday showed the use of millions of funds from the provincial exchequer to provide comfort to elite class and that record of purchases in some cases had not been maintained.
Working papers of the auditor general report about communication and works department for 2010-11 showed that the Provincial Building Maintenance Cell (PBMC) of the department had spent Rs1.6 million on the construction of a gazebo garden in the Chief Minister’s House in 2010.
According to them, the payment in this respect was made to the contractor as a lump sum without showing details of the work.
Officials of the department, however, claimed that all formalities were fulfilled before execution of the work.
In the meeting chaired by PAC chairman Kiramatullah Khan Chagharmatti, members of the committee expressed surprise after an engineer gave a graphic presentation on the gazebo garden developed in the lawn of the Chief Minister’s House. When asked, a relevant official told the PAC that the gazebo garden was developed on the directives of the chief minister.
Another audit report revealed that Rs176 million had been spent on the construction of new blocks in Circuit House, Mardan; maintenance and repair of the provincial assembly, Shahi Mehman Khana (official guesthouse) in Peshawar, MPA hostel, Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad, Speaker’s House, minister residences and Pakhtunkhwa House in Nathiagali, Abbottabad.
The report said the expenditure was irregular for being done as misuse of financial powers.
The committee dropped the paragraph after receiving ambiguous reply from the relevant department. The committee took serious note of purchase of expensive curtains for Shahi Mehman Khana, the British era building.
According to the audit report, the department spent Rs1.474 million on double curtains.
The committee directed the department concerned to avoid waste of taxpayers’ money and ordered recovery of Rs0.737 million from the relevant officials.
The committee was informed that PBMC incurred Rs6.534 million worth of expenditure on central heating system of Pakhtunkhwa House in Nathiagali in 2009-10.
The auditor general said there was no justification of the installation of such a costly system in Pakhtunkhwa House, a seasonal spot casually visited by VVIPs.
Members supported the viewpoint, saying roads leading to the place remained blocked in winter due to heavy snowfall, while water was unavailable in winter due to severe cold. Officials of the relevant department said the said heating system was installed on the instructions of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.
The committee directed the C&W secretary to conduct departmental inquiry into the matter.
Another audit report said Rs10.021 million was spent on the repair of Pakhtunkhwa House, Islamabad, which damaged due to a huge blast in a nearby hotel.
The report said the estimated bill of quantities for the repair was of Rs4 million but was later shown Rs10 million without justification.
The committee decided that it would carry out physical verification of the work and check record of items purchased for the guesthouse.