ISLAMABAD, Jan 9: It’s one Rana versus two Ranas. Auditor General of Pakistan, Buland Akhtar Rana, criticised the government on Wednesday for what he said giving the control of country’s finances to two officials who were ‘illegally occupying’ their positions. It is just a coincidence that two officials in question also belong to the family of Ranas.
A meeting of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly presided over by its chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal was shocked when Mt Rana made the revelation that two senior-most officials of the finance ministry, who are virtually controlling finances of the country, had been appointed in violation of rules.
Former finance secretary Abdul Wajid Rana has been reemployed in the ministry as its ‘principal officer’ after reaching superannuation in November last year and Asad Amin Rana, who retired as special secretary in the ministry, was reappointed as adviser to the ministry in May 2011.
According to the AGP, government rules don’t allow such appointments, but the two gentlemen have managed to get the prized positions in the same ministry they had served as civil servants.
“I personally believe that the poor financial management which we are witnessing here at the PAC is chiefly because of such illegal appointments,” remarked Mr Rana. He said it was very unfortunate that despite their poor performances the officials managed to get extensions at the same positions. Legally speaking, the ministry of finance has no principal accounting officer as of today because both officers stand rehired, added the AGP.
When Mr Wajid Rana was reemployed in the same position, questions were raised over his legal status. According to one explanation, the finance secretary is the authorised position of the government of Pakistan looking after financial affairs of the state and he has to be a civil servant as defined in Estcode and rules of business. However, in case of rehiring of a retired civil servant, he/she works on a contract basis.
Mr Gondal, who belongs to the ruling PPP, reluctantly asked who had appointed the two officials. Of course the government of the day, Mr Rana said meaning the prime minister.
Mr Wajid Rana was reappointed by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Mr Amin Rana by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The PAC directed the finance ministry’s representative present in the meeting to submit the official version about the legality or otherwise of the appointment of the two Ranas.
OVERPAYMENTS: The role of finance ministry came under scrutiny when the committee was informed that Wapda had, over the past five years, to pay Rs82 billion extra to independent power producers as late payment surcharge. According to Wapda officials, the late payment surcharge was paid because of delayed release of money by the finance ministry.
In the Wapda Power Privatisation Organisation, payments of invoices were to be made to the IPPs within 25 days of their receipt as per section 9.7(b) of the agreement. The payments were made beyond the stipulated period, because of which interest rate was paid to the IPPs.
As per section 9.7(e), late payments by either party should bear interest at a rate equal to the base rate plus four per cent per annum, compounded semi-annually, and should be computed for actual number of days on the basis of 365 days a year.
Wapda officials said they had been making timely payment to the IPPs since their induction in 1966, but from June 2006 the schedule was disturbed because of liquidity problems.
“Can one imagine, this poor nation has paid Rs82 billion just because our financial managers failed to manage finances,” the AGP said and called for changing the set-up.