PESHAWAR: Setting new benchmark of ‘fiscal mismanagement’ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a provincial minister has transferred a hefty amount of money from discretionary fund to his personal account for distribution among deserving players.
Talking to Dawn, sports minister Mehmood Khan, who also holds the portfolios of culture, tourism and museums, acknowledged that Rs1.8 million had been transferred from his discretionary fund as minister to his personnel account.
His argument was that it had happened due to lack of understanding on his part regarding the system but there was no bad intention behind transferring amount from official to personal account.
“We are new to the system so it should not be misinterpreted,” said Mehmood Khan, admitting that money from official account could not be transferred to private account.
The interesting aspect is the minister instead of giving cross cheques to players had distributed cash grant to them in different districts of the province.
Under the prescribed rules, officials said the minister or any other functionary could neither keep discretionary fund in personal account nor distribute cash money from it.
“This is absolutely illegal. Nobody including minister can keep money of the provincial exchequer in personal account or distribute cash among people,” said a senior government functionary dealing financial audit related affairs.
He said this was not minister’s job to distribute government funds in cash form. According to the procedure he said the concerned department or directorate would issue cross cheques in the names of the payees to be deposited in their personnel accounts.
“Neither auditor general nor public accounts committee of the assembly will approve such cases and even penalties had been imposed on many officials for depositing government money in their private accounts,” he said.
According to the official documents provincial directorate of sports issued two cross cheques worth Rs1,000,000 and Rs800,000 each in the name of minister Mehmood Khan in December 2013 and February 26, 2014. These cheques were deposited in the minister’s personal account in a commercial bank in Peshawar.
Acting Director General Sports Board Tariq Mehmood told Dawn that cross cheques had been released on the directives of the minister.
He said the sports directorate had asked for provision of proper receipt from the respective players and its furnishing to the said office before June 30 for audit.
Interestingly, Mehmood Khan is one of the ministers whose portfolios are likely to be changed as part of the cabinet reshuffle. There is a high livelihood of his getting the ‘lucrative’ irrigation minister.
Whether he would furnish receipts of the amount he disbursed is a big question mark.
It is also interesting to note that the minister distributed the entire amount of money within a short span of three months, since receiving the first tranche in late December.
Rs1 million was deposited in Mehmood Khan’s account in the Habib Bank Limited’s Civil Secretariat branch on December, 26, 2013 and the whole amount was withdrawn on December 31, 2013.
Another tranche of Rs800,000 was deposited on February 26, 2014 and the amount was withdrawn on February 28, 2014.
“The directorate has nothing to do with cheques whether they have been deposited in the minister’s private account or somewhere else,” he said, adding that he had asked for details of the recipients.
The officer’s claim flies in the face of longstanding official directives that official accounts could only be maintained in the Bank of Khyber.
The officer in question is a junior grade 17 officer, holding the acting charge of grade 19 director general (sports).
Minister Mehmood Khan said the amount had been distributed to players and that he had directed the relevant officials to collect particulars about the recipients and fill up performa. He said the record would be submitted to the directorate very soon.