116 audit paras cleared without PAC perusal

Published April 27, 2021
Out of13 paras left for further scrutiny, seven pertained to procurement of stationery and related items.<br />
— AFP/File
Out of13 paras left for further scrutiny, seven pertained to procurement of stationery and related items.
— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Establishment Division with the support of audit and finance officials got cleared 116 out of 129 audit objections during meetings of the Departmental Audit Committee (DAC), hence leaving only 13 paras for perusal of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

According to the documents available with Dawn, during an internal audit of the accounts of the Establishment Division for the year 2019-20, the auditors have raised 129 audit objections of multi-billion rupees irregularities in the financial affairs of the division.

These audit paras related to unjustified pay and allowances to re-instate sacked employees, their posting to various departments, unauthorised grants of honorarium, irregular expenditure on entertainment, unauthorised payment of inadmissible allowance, unauthorised use of 1800cc cars, overpayment of additional charge, unauthorised payment of late sitting allowance, overpayment of deputation allowance, less deduction of income tax, irregular payment of rent, irregular allotment of accommodation to non-entitled employees, unnecessary hiring of private property for office accommodation, unnecessary purchase of library books, irregular expenditure of journeys, etc.

Auditors have raised 129 objections of multi-billion rupees irregularities in Establishment Division

The DAC comprising Establishment Division secretary Dr Ijaz Munir, federal audit director general Tafakhar Ali Asdi and deputy secretary (expenditure) of the Finance Division Riaz Ahmed cleared these paras.

Out of13 paras left for further scrutiny, seven pertained to procurement of stationery and related items.

Interestingly, the Establishment Division spent Rs20.3 million on stationery in 2017 and Rs21.5m in 2018. However, Rs6m was spent on purchase of the similar items in 2019.

The report pointed out that “during financial years 2016-17 to 2017-18 the Establishment Division incurred an expenditure of Rs41.8 million on account of purchase of stationery, computer stationery and other store items”. It observed that the purchases were made in an uneconomical manner without determining actual requirements after obtaining demands from various sections.

The report also observed that “during financial year 2018-2019, there was a substantial decrease in expenditure on purchase of stationery”. The audit held this a serious violation of General Financial Rules.

According to the documents, chief finance officer (CFO) Mohammad Afzal highlighted this and urged the Establishment Division secretary to hold an inquiry and “the inquiry officer may please be directed to complete the inquiry and further action may please be expedited in the light of inquiry report”.

Ironically, the Establishment Division relinquished the CFO from his assignment and another officer of the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service, Jehangir Mushtaq Virk, was appointed as the new CFO.

However, Mr Virk, a BS-19 officer, was then posted as joint secretary (admin) of the Establishment Division within a few days of his joining in May last year. His predecessor Masood Chaudhry was a BS-21 officer.

Insiders said Mr Virk was given the charge for smooth settlement of the audit paras. Surprisingly, there has been no official spokesman for the Establishment Division — the backbone of civil bureaucracy — for over a year since senior joint secretary Masood Chaudhry was posted to the Cabinet Division as special secretary. The establishment secretary has so far not assigned the spokesman’s portfolio to any official.

The Establishment Division secretary neither responded to phone calls nor did his staff let this reporter to meet him in his office.

Additional establishment secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry was also not available for comments when contacted.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021

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