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KARACHI: The appointment of the incumbent director of Karachi University’s Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Chair and Convention Centre, Sahar Gul Abbasi, was against the rules and regulations as she did not possess required experience, it emerged on Wednesday.

This was disclosed in a report of the director general of the Sindh audit department. A special audit was conducted in January 2017 into the affairs of the SMBBC and Convention Centre during 2009 to 2016.

Recommending necessary action and a further inquiry, the report said that an advertisement for the post dated Jan 18, 2015 was found but there was no list of the number of applicants or shortlisted candidates. There was even no notification of the selection committee, it added.

Ms Abbasi was shortlisted but she did not possess a 15-year teaching/research guidance experience as required in the advertisement “which seems an undue favour to the candidate whereas Mr Shuja Ahmed [competitor of Ms Abbasi] was Masters and PhD from London and [has] a complete or more than 15 years experience as required in the advertisement”.

The main objective of the audit was to review the chair’s performance against the intended objectives, to assess whether the chair was managed with due regard to economy and efficiency and to review compliance with applicable rules, regulations and procedures.

The Sindh government had established the SMBBC and Convention Centre in 2008 at Karachi University for undertaking research on the vision and mission of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The institute would be providing education through designing multidisciplinary courses, short and long, by utilising Ms Bhutto’s political thought, focusing on democracy, peace, development, good governance, poverty alleviation, human rights, women’s emancipation and development to create awareness in the young generation to develop the country. The chair would enter into collaboration with national and international institutions for various exchange programmes.

During the review of the accounts of the director it was observed that a Rs7.936 million supervision construction contract was awarded to M/s Shahzad Associates against the provision at two per cent of the contract cost of Rs5.290m in PCI. Hence excess rate at 1pc of Rs2.646m over and above the provision of the PCI was allowed/awarded without approval of the competent forum.

During the audit of the office of the director for the period up to 2015-16, it was observed that the funds of Rs6.150m were drawn from assignment account and deposited into university’s account to avoid lapse of funds, which is illegal.

It was further observed that an advance payment of Rs1.876m was made on account of purchase of fixed assets to the suppliers as the work order was issued on June 14, 2015 but the contract agreement was not signed. Moreover, “the procurement ID” was withheld at the Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority’s website due to non-compliance of rules and also no inspection reports of the items by the committee were found to audit.

During the special audit, it was observed that the director had been offered and paid a lump sum monthly package of Rs160,000 totalling Rs1.92m on account of salary during the period from June 2015 to June 2016 without the approval of the varsity’s syndicate/senate, whereas her predecessor was getting Rs130,000 per month salary for which no approval was found.

The report said that the director was appointed on a fixed salary of Rs160,000 per month for a period of two years and no other facility was given but instead Rs150,000 on account of fuel for the director’s personal vehicle and mobile phone for personal use was drawn.

The report recommended that the expenditure so incurred seemed unauthorised, which may be recovered.

The auditor recommended recovery of the funds so drawn may be made under intimation to audit.

The report said that a development contract worth Rs262.533m was awarded to a contractor for construction of the convention centre and allied facilities despite the fact that the contractor was ineligible as per the evaluation criteria of the prequalification document.

The report said that the supervision construction contract of Rs7.936m was awarded to M/s Shahzad Associates which was also ineligible as per the evaluation criteria of the prequalification document.

According to the report, the expenditure of Rs 0.287m was incurred on account of printing and publication through splitting up upon the same dates to avoid open tender. Expenditure so incurred could not be authenticated.

The audit report stated that in the scheme titled “construction of Benazir Bhutto chair and allied facilities” an expenditure of Rs1.864m had been incurred on the head of contingency, which included a professional video camera worth Rs60,000 and other items but no tender was floated for this in contravention of the rules.

The audit had raised objection that an amount of Rs24.670m was drawn and paid to a contractor on account of mobilisation advance prior to the award of work and before obtaining 10pc bank guarantee.

The report also said that a Toyota GLI vehicle was purchased without the approval of the chief minister.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017