ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has pointed out mismanagement, irregularities and weak financial control of Rs5.8 trillion worth of public money by 44 federal ministries during audit year 2017-18.
The audit objections over accounts of the federal government for 2017-18 are far greater — 87 per cent higher — than those of 36 ministries involving an amount of Rs3.12tr a year before, showing deterioration in financial control over the public money instead of improvement.
Submitted to the president and laid before parliament as required under Article 171 of the Constitution, the AGP put on record that the findings were based on scrutiny of public funds of 44 out of 60 federal ministries and divisions and did not cover amounts below Rs1 million spent or received by these entities. It said that an amount of Rs69.4 billion was recovered and deposited in the federal consolidated fund.
Submitted to president and parliament, report covers year 2017-18
The AGP highlighted a total of 39 cases of weak internal control amounting to Rs5.775tr involving a series of ministries and divisions and related entities abroad. It also pointed out 82 cases of irregular expenditures or payments amounting to Rs24.75bn in violation of rules.
The AGP highlighted 26 cases of weak financial management worth Rs5.77tr and another 22 cases related to unsound asset management amounting to Rs1.3bn. There were 65 cases of recovery amounting to Rs9.12bn, while three cases were reported where record relating to Rs3.18bn was not produced on auditor’s demand.
Interestingly, the AGP also questioned misrepresentation of more than Rs3.89tr worth of supplementary grants by the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue which are required to ensure sound financial management of the federal government. In violation of Articles 80, 83 and 84 of the Constitution, the finance ministry did not print these supplementary grants which accounted for 92pc of the total supplementary grants, it said.
The AGP reported to the president and parliament that the finance ministry was required to place all supplementary grants before the National Assembly for approval but it was not done and such large amounts remained unreported. The finance ministry’s response that the supplementary grants received from various ministries and divisions beyond a cut-off date could not be made part of the book presented to parliament was found untenable.
Moreover, the AGP noted that the ministries and divisions had incurred an expenditure of Rs1.74tr in excess of final grants available to them and in fact the heads and principal accounting officers of the ministries were not authorised to incur excess expenditure without any supplementary grants or within original budget allocation.
The AGP also expressed concern over the failure of various ministries and divisions to surrender savings worth Rs109.5bn, resulting in lapse of funds. This is violation of financial rules that require that all anticipated savings should be surrendered to the kitty immediately they are foreseen but not later than May 15 each year. This could have pre-empted utilisation of funds by some other deserving areas and was a clear sign of poor financial management.
As if that was not enough, the AGP raised serious objections over the fact that top officers of the finance ministry responsible for prudent fiscal management of the country’s accounts had disbursed among themselves an unapproved amount of Rs10.166m during the audit year 2017-18 and demanded recovery of these funds.
They included 16 officers in Grade-21 and 22 for whom the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet had not approved honoraria. They are: Tariq Bajwa, Tariq Pasha, Shahid Mahmood, Dr Waqar Masood, Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani, Noor Ahmed, Naveed Allauddin, Ejaz Wasti, Akbar Sharifzada, Amer Mahmood, Syed Anwar Bukhari, Shujat Ali, Haq Nawaz, Arshad Ahmad, Hafiz Tahir and Aamar Ashraf Khwaja.
The AGP said the ECC had approved an honorarium exceeding one month pay to employees to the level of joint secretaries, but these officers took away Rs10.166m as 3-6 months’ additional salaries.
The audit report also highlighted that five regulatory authorities responsible for regulating the country’s five major sectors of economy were themselves violators of the laws as they did not pay Rs3.12bn to the Competition Commission of Pakistan as 3pc mandatory regulatory fee. The regulatory agencies included the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.
Moreover, the appointment of Ogra chairperson Uzma Adil Khan was also in conflict of interest and against the laid down rules. The AGP also demanded recovery of Rs955m from the families and guarantors of 132 scholars out of about 3,000 sent abroad on government expense but never returned in violation of their security bonds.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018